I am constantly blown away with the amount of care and knowledge that my clients show during ShayLeigh Photography family portrait shoots – I’m always so proud of these parents in action! Whether it’s being ready with the binky, or having an extra set of diapers, they’re usually on top and prepared. But what do you do when you have a toddler AND a baby? It’s not always easy introducing the ever-learning toddler to a situation that absolutely requires gentle care. Here are some tips on how to best teach your little one on the values of being soft and careful with baby.
1. To Teach Gentle, You Must Be Gentle
I know it’s really easy to slip into stern, louder volumes when needing your toddler’s immediate attention, but avoid it at all costs! That type of correction doesn’t necessarily stick as a learning moment. Try to keep your tone and volume gentle, and lead by example. You can still get your point across through things like eye contact and touch.
2. Be a Physical Guide
Going along with the first point, the best way to learn for children at this age is to be taught through example. This can absolutely occur just by using your own hands to guide theirs as they touch baby. Make sure they know the difference between using palms and fingertips while avoiding using nails. These little steps, along with soft reminders, will make sure baby stays safe.
3. Practice Positive Reinforcement
When you positively reinforce good behavior in young children, it often promotes them to continue down that path. Once they’ve started to grasp what gentle means, especially in regards to your newborn, make sure you give them loving praise for their actions. A simple “very good!” can go a long way!
4. Practice with a Doll (Or Action Figure!)
You may be eager to introduce baby to your toddler, as they slowly get adjusted to having that new baby brother or sister. But the safest option to teach them on how to be gentle is by using a guided toy, like a doll, action figure or stuffed animal. Using an inanimate object allows your young child to make the simple, easy mistakes, without fear of harm coming to baby. Plus, since they likely already have something of this nature, you won’t need to purchase anything else!
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