Biting, Screaming, Sprinting, Throwing, Interrupting, and if these new behaviors weren’t enough, your toddler thinks she’s the boss! Ahh…Toddlerhood! Your little angel is trying out her wings of independence and it’s not always pretty. Immediate gratification is the name of the game. As parents, it’s our job to set the ground rules and boundaries while consistently sticking to them. Teaching the do’s and dont’s of life is a full time job.
Here are some tips to keep you sane:
The Biter – Is your toddler hungry, tired, teething, frustrated or just curious?
- If your toddler is teething, offer her a frozen juice pop, frozen banana or a cup of ice water. Anything cold will soothe those aching gums.
- If she bites because she’s frustrated with a toy, crayons or other activity, redirect her to a game of catch or a run in the yard. Nothing beats frustration better than doing something physical.
- Never, ever bite your toddler back. It only reinforces negative behavior.
The Screamer – Does your toddler just want attention or is something really wrong?
Teach your toddler the difference between inside and outside voices. She may not know the difference.
- If your toddler screams at the top of her lungs when she wants something, whisper; “we don’t scream when we want something, please use your inside voice.
- If she won’t stop screaming, walk out of the room. It’s no fun to scream when you don’t have an audience!
The Thrower – Don’t toddlers know throwing can be dangerous and really make a mess?
- Until your toddler knows the ground rules, there is no difference between throwing a ball or a plate of food.
- When your toddler throws something inappropriate, remove it immediately and give her a ball, beanbag or a toy that is meant for throwing.
- If your toddler throws her food on the floor, mealtime is over. If she were hungry, the food would be in her mouth.
The Sprinter – Fun for your toddler, scary and frustrating for mommy and daddy!
- While it’s adorable to see that naked little bottom running away while the bath water is getting cold, try not to reinforce this one. Toddlers won’t know the difference between this or dashing away from you in the grocery store.
- Make sure you give your toddler plenty of opportunities to burn off that excess energy. Running in the park or even a speedy walk around the house can help.
- When you’re in a public place like the bank or grocery store, give your toddler a job like holding mommy’s purse or carrying the apples. Great for positive reinforcement and keeping her close.
The Interrupter – Why doesn’t she see I’m on the phone?
- Many times, as parents, we get so used to being interrupted and don’t stop what we are doing and look around. If your toddler interrupts you with “Mommy, Mommy,” make sure she just wants your attention and the house is not burning down!
- If you need to do a task that can’t be interrupted for a few minutes, set your toddler up with a quiet activity that won’t need your assistance, coloring or stickers work great.
- If your toddler always interrupts when you’re on the phone, make her a telephone box. Fill it with special toys she can only play with when you are on the phone.
The Boss – “No, I’m the Boss!”
- Toddlers don’t realize they’re not in charge and will try anything to get attention. Rude behavior is not acceptable. Firmly let her know you are the boss using a few quiet words.
- “I’m the boss” may sound cute coming from those little toddler lips the first time, but it just isn’t so. No laughing or calling Grandma. Once your toddler sees your amusement, she’s got you. And toddlers have great memories!
- Remember to let your toddler make some decisions. “Do you want to wear the pink or yellow shirt today?” Small decisions create great self-confidence.
As you take advantage of these wonderful teaching moments, be consistent. And have fun watching your toddler learn about our big, wide world.
By Blythe Lipman, president of Baby Instructions. She is passionate about babies, toddlers and their parents. After working in the field for over thirty-five years, she wrote her fourth award-winning book, Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions.