“STOPPING” is FUN!
Remember that we want to build the idea that stopping can be a wonderfully fun thing. Use the sign for “stop” (as shown in class), as well as the word, as part of your movement activities to indicate the time to stop moving. It is really fun to watch the toddlers catch on to this idea. One of the babies in the Village class just laughs and laughs when it is time to STOP! Some of the older toddlers say “STOP” just at the right time and FREEZE in place – it is a game to them.
In ALL of our classes, through activities such as lap bounces, instrument play, free dancing, and movement activities, such as “Well, You tap, tap, tap, …. And STOP” or “Walk all around…, and STOP”, we use STOP as a fun way to enjoy the process of stopping, and build anticipation for when we will start again.
Let me assure you that the enjoyment of stopping this way will transfer to your child’s positive feelings about controlling their own actions. This leads to a well developed ability for Inhibitory Control. It is much better for a child to be able to control their own actions, rather than having the parent in the position to have to help them. The younger they learn that this is fun, the better!
Redirecting Innappropriate behavior without using the word “STOP”
You may consider using a different word or phrase when redirecting inappropriate behaviors so they don’t make a negative connection to the stopping process. My favorite phrase to use with James was “THAT is NOT an option.”, then we would give him two appropriate choices to redirect him to things that were better options.
I have softened with my daughter, and as she has gotten older and more able to understand, I am more gentle with redirection; I make a SAD face (that gets her empathetic attention), then ask, “Please don’t….. (specific thing I don’t want her to do). “That hurts…. – or could hurt…” (be specific), or “You could get hurt by …” (be specific). I LOVE you too much, and I think we can find a better way to…”(be specific). Then we talk about better options. I am telling you that that tone of voice and problem solving attitude have gone a LONG way in my family lately.
Mind you, it doesn’t always work. If she starts crying or throwing a fit because she isn’t getting her way, she is matter-of-factly told, “You are making poor choices and are out of control, you must go to your room until you can calm down. As soon as you are ready to be helpful and nice, then you may come back out to join us.” And she usually goes by herself, but sometimes needs assistance to get there. I do check on her frequently and ask, with hope in my voice, if she has calmed down and is ready to join us again. After she is in her room, sometimes, she’ll come back out herself, and I’ll ask her if she is ready to be helpful and nice, and she is. Othertimes, she needs to be redirected to her room. Othertimes, she just needs me to come in and give her a hug, then she is ready. Othertimes, she does not want to calm down and will redirect herself to other activities in her room, because she needs a little private time for herself before joining others. All of these are OK in my book.