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NAN: The Importance of Consistency for Toddlers

Toddlers feel safe and secure when they are aware of their boundaries. Nannies should have simple, specific rules and expectations that outline what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not.

Rules and expectations should be clearly communicated and enforced consistently so that the toddler can rely on them. They should also be framed positively by telling the toddler what he can do rather than what he can’t do. For example instead of saying “no yelling in the house,” frame the rule positively by saying “use your indoor voice in the house.”

It’s also important that the rules are age-appropriate and realistic. If the rules ask a toddler to do something he’s not capable of doing, it will only lead to frustration and the toddler will be less likely to listen and comply in the future.

If a nanny says we are leaving the playground in five minutes, she should follow through and leave the playground in five minutes, even if the toddler protests. If she doesn’t, the toddler may infer that with enough protest, the rule can be broken and will test the limits on future occasions until the nanny takes back control and enforces the rule or boundary.

When toddlers know that they can depend on the rules and boundaries their parents and caregivers establish, they are more likely to comply and internalize them.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: The Importance of Consistency for Toddlers