Why Toddlers Act Out And How To Deal With Them

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We’ve all heard about the terrible twos, but did you know it could continue to the threes, fours and fives? Toddlers can test your patience at times and they usually can’t help themselves. Most parents find it tiring and frustrating to deal with the tiny tots and all their antics at this period. Even the most docile baby can turn into a disagreeable, aggressive toddler. But why? And how do you discipline someone who loves saying “no” to all your suggestions? Unfortunately like everything else to do with parenting, there is no handbook on how to best discipline your little troublemaker. Figuring out your parenting style and what techniques work for your kid is a long and ever changing process. But understanding why little kids act out can help you find more efficient ways to keep them in line.

Why Do Toddlers Act Out?

Why Do Toddlers Act Out

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Toddlers show various negative behaviors and mannerisms that indicate that they are unhappy. They may result in biting, throwing tantrums and even hitting. They have no follow through with respect to rules and instructions and share a general lack of emotional regulation. As hard as it can be, you must keep in mind that your toddler isn’t really trying to be a menace. Usually, there are good reasons behind the way they act like they do and understanding them will help you move towards making positive changes to their behavior. Your toddler’s brains haven’t fully developed yet and so their cognitive development is not complete. This means that they don’t know how to regulate their emotions like adults do and will result in acting on impius in order to deal with their emotions the best way they know.

Moreover, their communication skills may not be sophisticated enough to convey what they are feeling or what is disturbing them. So, it is the parent’s responsibility to observe their kids and figure out what might be causing them discomfort. Remember to address the underlying needs before you correct them on their behavior. This will help them feel more connected to you and will ensure that they come to you independently when they have a crisis, instead of throwing a fit.

So now that you know why your toddler turns into the Hulk every now and then, what do you do about it? Many parents struggle with how to go about discipling the kids. A good place to start is prevention. Redirecting and teaching your kid positive behavior will ensure that you spend less time having to correct and punish negative or unpleasant behavior.

Here are some tips you can try:

1. Anticipate Problems

Anticipate Problems

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We’re sorry to burst your bubble but your child is not an angel. They are going to throw tantrums and act on a whim. There will be times when they don’t listen and can’t care about the consequences because at the end of the day they are just little people trying to figure the world out. After a while you will have a good idea of what kind of situations trigger negative emotions and outbursts in your little one. For example, if your toddler starts to whine when it’s time to leave the park, speak to them before you leave the house and communicate what kind of behavior you expect from them. Establish a system that works for the both of you like a countdown. Give them a warning when there’s only 2 minutes left so they know when to wrap up play and are expected to go home.

3. Reinforce Positive Behavior

Reinforce Positive Behavior

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Little ones love to focus on the positives, so use this strategy to your advantage. Rather than reprimanding them about negative behavior, show approval when they practice positive behavior. One great way to avoid or get rid of unpleasant behavior is to teach your child what kind of behavior you want them to exhibit instead. This also means leading by example and sticking to your word. If they are not allowed to yell at people, neither are you. Shouting at your child for screaming will do nothing but confuse them. Instead show them how to interact with people appropriately and how to express their concerns in socially appropriate ways.

3. Give In

Give In

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This may sound counterintuitive but it’s actually a great strategy. Kids don’t have the logical reasoning to recognise when something isn’t a great idea which is why they cry and throw a tantrum. If they think ice cream is a great idea right before bed, let them have a teaspoon and work on their reasoning skills little by little until they understand that it is not good for their health. Problem solved!

Being a parent to an always energetic toddler may seem daunting and exhausting but with these little tricks and tips you’ll know how to manage them just fine. So is there a tip we left out? Let us know in the comments section!

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.