Most parents would probably agree that no toddler is easy. After all, this is the age group notorious for big messes, big energy, and big emotions (hello, tantrums!). While this may be true, personalities can vary greatly even at this young age. If you’ve noticed your little one is more rebellious or emotional than others, here are some tips for reigning them in.
1. Rule Out a Medical Issue
Each kid is an individual and sometimes behaviors have underlying psychological or physical causes. Before you dive into discipline, it can be helpful to know if these factors are affecting your child. Speak with his or her pediatrician about any symptoms or odd behaviors you notice. If your toddler is having health issues or is diagnosed with a mental/behavioral disorder, you may need additional treatment to address the problems you’re having.
2. Be Consistent
If disciplining your child once was enough to correct the behavior, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. Small children are still learning the appropriate way to behave and will likely need repeated corrections before they understand. Consistency is key. If you put your kid in time out the first time they refuse to stop hitting the dog, but let it slide the next time, you’re sending mixed signals. The more consistent you are, the sooner they will understand that no means no.
3. Offer Choices
Do you often find yourself in battles over the silliest things with your toddler (if so, you may find 3 “Battles” You Absolutely Should Pick with Your Kids (and 3 You Can Skip) helpful). Maybe he or she refuses to put on shoes or eat anything besides applesauce. This is because toddlers like to be in control and being told to do something makes them feel like they don’t have any. Instead of, “Can you please put your shoes on?”, try “Would you like to wear your blue sneakers or black sneakers today?”. If you offer choices, you can make him or her feel like the ball is in their court.
4. Stay Calm
Repeating yourself constantly to a toddler that just doesn’t want to listen can be infuriating. However, having a tantrum yourself isn’t exactly setting a great example, especially considering toddlers learn so much from watching others. Just remember, you are the adult and you are in charge. There may be times when a more severe tone of voice is needed, but this should be a decision based on the behavior, not a loss of emotional control.
5. Tantrums are Temporary
Although it may feel like you’ve been dealing with bad behavior for a long time, remember that they don’t stay little forever. Some day your child willput pants on without being asked. Keep working on it, and eventually your toddler will grow out of this stage. The next stage will come with challenges of its own, but until then, hang in there. You got this!