No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury

Toddler Discipline Without Shame

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury is a quick and easy read with some good advice about raising toddlers.

The book isn’t a textbook and doesn’t share scientifically proven principles by any means. Instead, the author bases her discipline principles on RIE by Magda Gerber. The concepts of using consistency, clearly defined limits, and expectations used to develop discipline are good. She believes that a lack of discipline is a form of neglect.

She writes that are no bad kids. They are just impressionable young people trying to cope and express their complex feelings and emotions. If we say they are bad it will likely lead to negative labeling and a source of shame they may belong to believe about themselves.

The author says that in the toddler world compliance means weakness. So, expect resistance. Toddlers are especially good at pushing limits. When boundaries work kids don’t need to push limits as often. They trust their caregivers and their world because there is structure.

The sooner a caregiver can provide limits the better the child will trust them. Children don’t actually wish to be all powerful. It’s scary.

A child acting out doesn’t require punishment. A tantrum is a cry for attention, more sleep, or a call for firmer and more consistent limits. Children (and especially toddlers) have an overwhelming impulse to step out of bounds while desperately needing limits and to be securely reigned in. Toddlers test boundaries to clarify the rules.

As toddlers become more resistant, whiny, distracted, clingy, and have tantrums it’s a sign they want you to make a choice for them. It may see contradictory that the more freedom we give them the more they act out, but that’s how toddlers work. The reality of being in charge makes them feel unsafe so they act out.

Transitions are notoriously difficult. When we give them more than one choice they will put the brakes on. They feel safe at what they are doing and don’t know what will happen next. When we project calm they often feel more comfortable to move on. When you over identify with their feelings and any ambivalence will cause a whiny and nagging child.

The author explains that children often misbehave at school when clear boundaries don’t exist at home. They need to feel you are in control during transitions. It’s easier to indulge a child then discipline and children know that. So they will whine and act out to get what they want. But, they are actually working hard to ensure they have a safe and secure nest.

Ms. Lansbury admits there are no quick fixes when setting limits and developing discipline with toddlers. When setting limits the emotional state of the caregiver almost always dictates the child’s reaction. If we lack confidence and clarity or lose our temper or are frazzled this will unsettle the child and lead to more undesirable behavior.

Our job is to remain a calm, solid leader, without taking the child’s feelings personally.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame also includes a collection of Janet Lansbury’s most popular articles. I skipped most of the chapters that were just articles since they seemed redundant and wordy. I do recommend the book. The RIE principles about discipline are worth understanding.

You can purchase your own copy of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by clicking the links in article or below:


No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

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