Toddlers are very endearing in general. It’s that age where adults are often amazed about how fast they develop. They learn new things in a snap, making every parent feel like they gave birth to the next Einstein.
But it’s not always a good day.
They will have tantrums worse than anything you’ve ever seen. And you will lose your patience so many times. Sometimes, you could also feel some self-doubt as you wonder whether you’re being a good parent or not.
Mum, Dad, it’s okay.
Your toddler’s behaviour could be a cause for concern today, but how you handle it is what makes a huge difference.
Think like a toddler, even for an instant. Imagine discovering a lot of new things – some of them you’re happy about, some of them frustrating for you. Although you do have your facial expressions to aid you, your vocabulary is still limited, which means that you can’t even express how you’re feeling at any given moment.
Add to this the fact that your emotions are all over the place, as you still haven’t fully mastered how to control them.
Now, can you blame toddlers for throwing a fit every now and then?
With these practical tips, you can better manage your toddler’s behaviour, helping them minimize their tantrums as well.
Take it easy on the rules
Your toddler is at that stage where they are processing new pieces of information at lightning pace, which means that a lot of things are still very confusing for them.
While setting some ground rules for them would be healthy and helpful, having too much of these rules would do more harm than good to your child. Try to prioritize the rules that are focused on safety – it’s important to have your child master those the earliest possible time.
As for the other rules, those can be added once the first few rules have been established. Having so much rules at a single time could confuse your child, causing them to become even more frustrated and pushing them to behave more badly.
Create a suitable environment for them
Might as well help them understand the rules you set as well by keeping the temptations around the house as few as possible. If you have a no-candy rule for example, it wouldn’t help if you had jars of candy all over the place.
Some parents would ask, “But how could they get ready for the temptations outside if they don’t see temptations at home?”
Sure, that’s a valid point. But your kids are still emotionally incapable of understanding such things. Besides, at this age, they are probably spending more time at home than elsewhere. And because they spend most of their time awake here, might as well make it a little easier on them. Training for the tough stuff can always come later when they are more capable of controlling their emotions.
Offer suggestions instead of barking orders
It’s normal for parents to just bark orders, especially when their toddler has started to get into their nerves. “Stop that!” or “Do this now!” are very common things you’d hear from parents who have gotten frustrated with how their kids are behaving.
But like any normal adult, being ordered around does not exactly work wonders for kids.
Offer suggestions on what you want them to do so that they can have a way to divert their actions into something else.
Instead of saying, “Stop throwing that ball around the house,” you can say, “You can play with your toy cars instead,” or “Let’s throw the ball around the yard instead.”
Always be aware of the situations you put them in
Sometimes, the source of their frustration also comes from the parents’ over eagerness. If you see an educational toy that clearly states that it’s for kids aged 6 years and above for example, forcing your child to understand how it works at age 3 is not exactly a great way to encourage patience.
Sure, you believe that your child is a genius.
But setting such unreasonably high expectations can affect not only your child’s behaviour, but your child’s self-esteem as well.
You should also be aware of other things that could push your child to his limits. Know when your child is hungry, sleepy, or tired. Be careful about situations that are unfamiliar to him as well. If it’s his first time to go to a certain playground for example, don’t push him to make friends with all these unfamiliar faces just yet. Allow him to adjust to his surroundings, and let him become more relaxed at his own pace.
Enforce a few consequences
Always make your child aware of any effects that their actions may have. Allow them to keep throwing their toys for example, but show them what happens once the toy breaks.
You can also think about other consequences, such as not allowing your child to play with his favourite toys for the entire day if he fails to pick them up and put them back where they belong.
It’s also great to have a timeout spot – a secluded area where your child can calm down and understand that he did something wrong. If your child has not had the chance to learn how to sit still yet, you can join him in the timeout spot and hold him gently but firmly to keep him from flailing around.
Before ending the timeout, make sure you explain clearly what he did that led to this. Once his timeout is over, it’s best to jump right into a positive activity.
Be mindful about how you react and respond to situations
Your kids watch your every move.
Parents who have a bad temper would often have kids that show bad behaviour and throw really bad tantrums. Those who are gentler in their approach however, often have well-behaved kids.
This is because the way you handle stress will also rub off on your child. They realize that if this is how you handle stress, then this should be the right way to do it.
Be careful, therefore, on how you react to different situations in front of your child. If you feel that you are about to lose your cool, lock yourself in a room and let the emotions subside first. Never throw an angry fit in front of your child because one day, when things aren’t going well for him, you’ll see the exact same angry look on your child’s face.
Your child’s behaviour is dependent on his environment and the situations he is placed in. As a parent, you always have to remember that your own behaviour towards his or her tantrums can change the way he acts next time.
Special thanks to Francisco Osorio for the main image.