Common Toddler Behaviour and How to Control Them

toddler

It feels great watching our precious children grow and develop in so many different ways. During their first few years, they learn an incredible amount of things, from language, control over their bodies, walking and gradually becoming independent. Some of the things that children learn, are taught by us (such as family routines) and some develop naturally (e.g. learning to eat solid food).

Toddlers are like sponges. They absorb knowledge, words, behaviour faster at this stage. Throwing tantrums, hitting, biting, screaming, and other less-than-adorable behaviors are normal for toddlers. But you can discourage these behaviors and teach better ones.

One of the areas that are emerging at this time is a toddler’s social development. The social development of a toddler can be quite complex, and we need to keep in mind that while our children are sponges in terms of learning at this age, they have obviously not mastered everything (nor should we expect them to!). Social skills are learned through experience and teaching, and we need to be patient to gain an understanding of what they are, and are not, capable of doing.

Below are some common behaviours that toddlers may engage in when they are in social situations. These are developmentally appropriate and are an important learning phase for your child.

1. Snatching and Grabbing

We are often embarrassed when we see our children ‘snatch’ a toy from other kids. Many of us worry that our child is becoming a bully and that we need to step in and change their behaviour. However, a young child is not capable of being selfish at this stage, they simply see something that they want, and they take it.

– As a parent, you can:

Learn not to stress during this phase. It is a normal part of this developmental stage. However, if this continues past ”toddlerhood”, then keep an eye on things – the difference between “naughty” and “developmental” is the intention of the child. 

2. Biting, Fighting and Hitting

Toddlers have limited language skills, and they have not yet learnt appropriate ways of expressing their feelings. When a toddler is upset, angry or frustrated, they often show this physically. This is their way of coping with these difficult emotions, and often they will take it out on whoever is nearby – even if they are not the offender!

– As a parent, you can:

Try not to yell.  Yelling, hitting, or telling your child he/she’s bad won’t get him/her to make positive changes to his/her behaviour. Respond immediately whenever your toddler is aggressive. Remove him/her from the situation for a brief time-out (just a minute or two is enough). This gives him/her time to cool down, and after a while he/she’ll connect his/her behavior with the consequence and figure out that if he/she hits or bites, he/she gets time-out and won’t be allowed to play with the other kids.

 

Encourage your toddler to apologise after he/she lashes out at someone. His/Her apology may be insincere at first, but the lesson eventually will sink in. Avoid lecturing or trying to reason with your toddler: They are not capable of imagining themselves in another child’s place or changing their behavior based on verbal reasoning. But they can understand consequences.

3. Parallel Play

Toddlers are not yet able to develop friendships in the way that adults can, but they can enjoy the company of others. It is a common scene in pre-schools and play groups to see young children playing alongside each other but not actually playing with each other. Often they are watching what the other child is doing, and may imitate some of their behaviours.

– As a parent, you can:

Give them plenty of opportunities to interact with children (and adults!) of all ages. Toddlers love to mimic, and they are also absorbing information on how they should behave by watching and studying how others act and react to situations. Ass a parent, ensure that you are modelling the behaviours that you would like your child to engage in. Just remember: If you yell and scream when things do not go your way, or argue if someone else asks you for a favour or something, your child sees this behaviour as appropriate and is looking to you as their ideal role model.

4. Social Language

You can teach your child how to speak to others. Some of the important words are “please” , “sorry“and “thank you” or something close to those. While these words may not make a difference while interacting with other toddlers, they are an essential addition to their vocabulary when dealing with older children or adults.

– As a parent, you can:

Play with your children! While taking turns does not develop for a while, it is certainly possible to teach (by modelling) a toddler to say “thank you” every time you pass him/her a toy, or for the child to say “please” when he/she wants something. Again, this may not develop for a while, but if it becomes a habit for you, then your child is more likely to learn it by themselves. Children respond well to routine and using appropriate manners is a habit that will serve them well!

 

Have you noticed any other behaviour you would like to share? Please drop your suggestions for other mums to learn from.

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