Parenting is a pathway filled with surprises and challenges. Navigating through it smoothly comes only from learning and understanding your children. When we talk about toddlers' behavior, we can imagine them as small humans trying to make some space for themselves. These little beings are just beginning to understand themselves, going through a range of emotions, which leaves them confused and irritated.
The toddler stage typically lasts from one to three years of age. During this time, every toddler goes through different developmental stages, which include physical, mental, and behavioral changes. At this stage, the toddlers begin to see themselves as separate individuals, they begin to explore their surroundings, try to communicate, and express their emotions. While they go through these emotions, it is normal for them to throw a tantrum, not listen to their parents and be stubborn. All these changes are normal to occur as they grow .
Since their communication and emotional skills are underdeveloped, they tend to convey their thoughts or wants through their behavior. Sometimes all they need is attention from their parents and to get that attention they tend to do things that sometimes may seem to bother people around them. There are various reasons why toddlers may have difficult behaviors, including poor diet and sleep schedule, watching too much TV, being sick and tired, and other family issues that may also affect how toddlers behave. Sometimes the difficult behavior may be an indicator of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed by a professional otherwise, toddlers as they age change and learn more about behaving well (1).
Parents play an important role in shaping how the child behaves, although it can get frustrating and they may test your patience, it is still important to understand them and behave gently. Practicing self-control and approaching toddlers or children with calmness is the key. It is also necessary that you validate their emotions, be it anger, frustration, or sadness. Showing them empathy and giving them choices can make the situation less daunting and may calm the toddler soon. You can also teach them how to have self-control in fun ways, like during playing games or by reading them stories (2).
Practice positive reinforcement, like giving attention to them when they do something good. Try to convey to them about which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Consider making a chart and giving them scores whenever they behave well. This strategy can send a positive message to children and show them their good behavior is seen and valued. Practice being a good person yourself by being calm, not shouting or yelling. Your child is going to practice what they see in you and if you want them to behave well, then it is first on you to behave maturely.
Some tips that may always come in handy when dealing with a child throwing a temper are to call a time-out, take a moment for yourself before you react and then deal with the situation in a peaceful manner. Always use a positive and appreciative tone around children even when you are angry. It is okay to be firm and tell no when required but ensure you explain them well and there are no negative feelings. It is not okay to hurt the child either physically or verbally, shame or isolate them as their little minds can have a drastic effect on such behavior. While it is important to have house rules, do not use them very rigidly, and let the child sometimes have their way (3).
You can also engage them in various indoor or outdoor activities to keep them distracted. Read them storybooks, play with them, and shower them with plenty of affection and love. Although their behaviors won’t change in a day or so, practicing these simple tips daily will have a good impact on the child in the long run and also make the parent-child relationship stronger.
Too much screen time can affect how toddlers behave with other children or people, reducing their interaction and making them easily frustrated. It also inhibits their brain power, which comes from playing and face-to-face interactions (4).
Professional help will be needed if the toddler causes physical injury such as bruises or teeth marks on themselves or others. If they are sent home from school or the play area due to their bad behavior or if you fear for their safety, you may take professional help (3).
Positive toddler discipline facilitates a paired association between events and consequences.
Manage their behavior by setting rules, knowing their feelings, and being a role model.
There may be better and more effective ways to make your children listen to you.