* This article is an excerpt from and is edited based on a lecture & consultation meeting titled “How to Communicate with and Discipline Small Children” which was held in 2018.
* This article is also available in Japanese and Chinese.
Q.: My child keeps doing what I tell him/her not to do. (1.5 years old)
My child climbs on the table and I tell him/her not do that. But s/he does it everyday. I tell my child, “Don’t get on the table, “ and bring him/her down. But s/he seems to enjoy the whole thing like a game and keeps doing it many times. I just don’t know how to warn him/her.
A child gets on the table as a mischief and climbs again happily when you bring him/her down. As you pointed out, this is “playing”. When a child behaves well, that is, not doing what s/he is told not to, s/he is often left alone. But if s/he does what s/he is told not to, the parent would surely attend to him/her in a serious way. So, when a child is bored, s/he starts doing what s/he is told not to do, one after another. S/he means “Take care of me” and “Play with me”.
In such a situation, you can change it to another type of playing such as playing with another toy, reading a picture book or drawing. Also when a child is full after having a meal, s/he would drop his/her spoon and have it picked up by his/her parent. S/he wants to play with Mum and Dad.
When your child tries put his foot up on the table but stops doing it after you tell him/her “Don’t get on the table,” please tell your child, “You’re a good boy/girl. You listened to me,” and praise him/her for stopping what s/he tried to do. Any child finds it more fun to be praised, not scolded, and to be attended to. So, you should try to change the situation to a type of playing where you can praise your child, instead of your child telling “Look at me!” by climbing the table. It is just that your child is looking for some kind of playing.
Speaker: Ms. Ryoko Uchida, psychology counselor for children
Since 1973, Ms. Uchida has continuously held counseling sessions at multiple healthcare centers in Tokyo. In addition, since 1998, she has presided over <<Momo’s Room; Child Counseling>> and has held group consultation for truancy, delinquency and withdrawal. Ms. Uchida is also a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University, a widely known advisor for NHK Radio phone counseling on children’s psychology and a speaker at numerous seminars at child care circles, parents’ groups on truant children, and kindergartens across Japan.
(Translated by Wakana Goto)