Teaching your toddler to be gentle


Learning to be gentle is an important task for little ones as they interact with you, new friends and pets.  Here are a few ideas to help you teach your child to be gentle.


Show Your Toddler How Gentle Feels

Allowing your child to experience how good gentle touch feels is key. Pat or caress your child gently and say, “This is gentle. My hand is being gentle to you.” Use a gentle voice while explaining.  Parents should teach small children that no one enjoys being poked, prodded, yelled at or kicked, even during playtime.  Demonstrate how you are gentle with your pets, younger children and toddler so your little one can copy you. 



Be Gentle When Correcting

Use a gentle voice and show which body part you’d like them to use more gently by touching that part gently. For example, tap her hand lightly but firmly and say, “No, no, hands. Be gentle with your hands, please.”  Show toddlers to exhibit calmness and gentleness through slow, controlled motions, soft voices and gentle touch. Teach them to approach pets and playmates in the same manner.


Use Your Hands to Guide Theirs

Let your child feel how much force can be used by guiding their hands in gentle touch.   Hold their hand and show them how it feels.  If your child is rough try this right after she’s been rough so she can understand the difference between how she was using touch when she was rough and how it feels to use touch gently.


Let Them Know They're Doing It Right

While using your hands to guide theirs in being gentle, say, “You are being gentle! Nice job being gentle.” Even though you’re doing most of the work, this way they connect the gentler touch with affirmation.


Gain Skills Using Something That Can't Be Hurt

Show your child how to use gentle touch on themselves and then you.  Sometimes it’s best to keep the pets and other kids out of harm’s way until she’s had some practice. Using a baby doll or stuffed toy is an excellent way to get practice being gentle.


Look for Success

Try to catch your child being gentle on her own. She’ll be so proud of herself for knowing what to do and how to do it that she’ll try to do it again and again, hoping I’ll notice. Go out of your way to make note of small ways your little one is being gentle and praise him or her for them. Gaining a new skill is big stuff and your toddler will feel incredibly proud to have accomplished something new.


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