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Understanding Toddler Behavior

Parenting and Child Care

Understanding toddler behavior may be the proactive way to surviving the "terrible twos." The terrible twos is the time when the good passive baby turns into the loud, assertive toddler. Toddlers can be bossy, demanding, pint-sized balls of energy. Note, toddlers are not being "bad", they are simply moving through a necessary phase in their development.

Typical Toddler Behavior

Tantrums - not because they want to cry and throw a fit for every little thing, but because they lack the skills necessary to know that walking away from a frustrating task will help, or how to get their point across that something is just not right and explain how to make it right. Helping a child develop a vocabulary to support being able to voice a frustration can be a huge help in this department. Also, remember that toddlers are testing boundaries and if parents cave due to a tantrum, children will expect them to cave each time they provide one - so they will happily oblige, time after time.

Mine! - Toddlers are very possessive of both things and people. Ask a toddler to share a toy, or worse, mom or dad with another child and it'll seem as though you're trying to give him/her away for life. It's normal because they are just learning that they have things that are theirs and that those things will be returned to them if they are shared. This is Just like toddlers learning that mom and dad will come back at the end of the day from work, or that mom and dad will still be their mom and dad even if another child is vying for attention.

Energy - Toddlers have tons of energy and can typically wear out all of the adults. It should be expected, but parents need to keep up with them to keep them safe, and learn how to control that energy to help them wind down when they need to for naps and bedtime. An unsupervised toddler is a recipe for disaster. They have no idea of what is safe, how to determine if something/someone is safe, or how to get themselves out of any situations. Toddlers handle routines much better than spontaneity. If a routine is established for bedtime which includes "winding down" time, toddlers will have a much easier time falling asleep.

Opposition - Toddlers are masters at opposition. Not because they are trying to be difficult, but because they are trying to be independent thinkers and self-sufficient. Which is exactly what they should be doing - learning for to do things for themselves. Unfortunately, it is not always the best time for them to dress themselves (on the way out the door in the morning), or helping with dishes (when dinner's late.) To staunch this problem designate times/days when there is ample time for toddlers to explore their skill levels, or build a little extra time into each day to mitigate toddler assistance.

Toddlers can be quite quirky, but understanding toddler behavior will help toddlers and parents survive this stage. In essence, they are simply learning how their world works, and adults are their own personal guinea pigs. Try to remember they're only children, and most don't yet have the cognitive ability to plan to be real stinkers.

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