Battling Bad Behaviors
Author: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford
One minute they are sweeter than sugar, the next they may be yelling, kicking, and acting irrational.
You're not alone.
You are a parent of a toddler.
As active learners, toddlers are learning that they are individuals. They have feelings and desires. What they sometimes don't have are the skills they need to communicate. They may also not have the ability to understand why certain things are "off limits."
What can you do?
How do you support your child in acquiring healthy behaviors? How do you develop the skills that they need that will make your life (and theirs) a bit easier?
First of all, relax and be patient. Your toddler is most likely saving their worst for you. Why? They feel safe and they are looking for you to provide the security they need when they are out of control.
When your toddler explodes in a tantrum, remain calm. (Yes, easier said than done.)
Your number one responsibility is to keep your child safe. After ensuring your child is in a safe place, especially if they are kicking, etc., you may try using some of the following statements:
- "I understand you are angry."
- "Can you use your words to tell me how you feel?"
- "How can I make it better?"
If they are unable to respond, they simply may need time to work through the situation. Sometimes, a gentle touch (i.e. placing your hand on their back) will provide comfort. Other times, your child may need space. Monitor the response. The goal should be to help your child work through the situation. It is not always your job to fix it. Sometimes, some days, you will not be able to fix it.
You may have thought you wouldn't have to worry about this one until the teen years. All of sudden, you are hearing "No!" "Move!" "Quiet!" or other words that are coming out of your toddler's mouth that make you shudder.
One minute you were delighted that they were talking and now you are less than thrilled over the words you are hearing.
First of all, consider the source. Where is your child hearing these words or tone? Be a model and have others in your child's life be a model too. Use kind words. When your child says a word or phrase you dislike, rephrase and have them repeat. For instance, your child may say, "give me more pancake!" An appropriate reply may be: "Would you like more pancake? What words can we use? - Mama, may I have some more pancake, please?"
Praise your child for using the language you desire. Sometimes, it may be best to ignore words or phrases. Often children are simply seeking attention. As a basic rule of thumb, reward positive behaviors. Ignore negative behaviors.
Be patient with your child.
Use kind words.
Always remember, you are the parent and they are your child.
They are always looking to you for what to do and how to do it.
It's not always easy, but your investment will be worth the return.