Your toddler’s behaviour

Our health visitor gives tips and advice about your toddler’s varying behaviour

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A shy toddler sometimes just wants to observe first

Encouraging your child to share

  • Stay close when your toddler’s playing with friends, so if an argument about toys looks like it’s brewing you’re ready to step in and avert any scenes.
  • Make a special place where precious belongings not for sharing with others can be kept and respect that not everything has to be shared.
  • Pick names out of a hat to see who goes first.
  • Be a good role model. Let others choose a TV programme, the first biscuit, share a seat.
  • Be understanding. Tell your tot that you see it is difficult, but you’re pleased she’s tried to share.
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Coping with toddler tantrums

  • Don’t panic! If your little one is losing his cool, you need to stay calm. Tantrums can be scary for toddlers too.
  • Look for signs. Spot the triggers and take action before things escalate. If a squabble is brewing, distract him with a toy or activity.
  • Distance yourself. If it’s safe to do so, walk away to another room so you don’t give the tantrum attention.
  • Don’t offer logic. Reasoning gives attention, and is pointless as your tot isn’t listening or able to consider anyone else’s view.
  • Sing his praises. Making lots of fuss for good behaviour you want your toddler to repeat will encourage him.

Control toddler aggression

  • Clarify. Tell your toddler it’s his behaviour you don’t like, not him personally.
  • Stay close. Then you can spot potential triggers for angry flare-ups, step in early and divert attention, before any trouble starts.
  • Demonstrate. Try not to show your own aggression. Little ones learn more by example than long-winded explanations.
  • Talk it over. Make sure the victim is OK and when things are calmer, have a chat about what’s acceptable behaviour towards others.
  • Sing his praises. When he curbs his aggression, smile and clap – especially in front of other people.

Controlling the TV in your home

  • Reassess. Consider how your family watches TV, as that will help you see where changes may be needed.
  • Let it rest. Having periods in the day where there is no background noise from TVs helps children develop good attention and listening skills.
  • Talk about it. Enjoying a TV programme with your toddler is a nice way for you both to learn new things.
  • Keep it short. Encourage your toddler to choose a short programme to watch. Around 20 minutes a day seems to be most suitable for children over 2.
  • Find an alternative. Offer other activities so your toddler knows TV isn’t the only entertainment.

Resolving squabbles

  • See both sides. Once children feel they are understood, the heat is taken out of the situation.
  • Don’t ‘blame’. Avoid trying to work out who did what to who, it prolongs the agony. Move on to options for making up instead.
  • Lighten the mood. Do something funny like dancing around, singing or blowing bubbles if things have gone too far.
  • Demonstrate. Try to be first to offer to wait a turn, play with something else or gently give something back.
  • Go with it. Arguments are normal, and good practice for resolving difficulties, which we all struggle with.

Sleep solutions once the clocks go back

  • Gently does it. Try to move your toddler’s routine forward by around 15 minutes a day every few days in the week around the clock change.
  • Chill! Have a quiet week to allow for a little rest time as routines settle.
  • Don’t start new routines. Just until your little one is settled again.
  • Have an early night. Toddlers waking up even earlier in the mornings can be exhausting and get you down, so try going to bed a bit earlier yourself.
  • Blackout blinds. If you haven’t already invested in blackout blinds, do so, as they really can help in prolonging sleep.

Dealing with sibling rivalry

  • Don’t over react. It’s normal for toddlers to squabble and excellent practice for playground negotiation.
  • Try and remain neutral, as you’ll rarely know the full story.
  • Focus on fixing bickering, not getting to the bottom of how it all began.
  • Allow each child a box where her special things are kept, and make sure everyone respects that it’s hers alone, while everything else is for sharing.
  • If possible, try to give each of your children a few minutes of your undivided attention.

When to watch out for a temper tantrum

  • Doing chores like shopping can spark a negative mood. Have toys on hand to amuse your little one.
  • Late afternoon, when you’re both tired is often when a temper can flare. Have quiet time together to chill out.
  • When you’ve got company. Your tot may play up for attention.
  • Being too busy. Even fun new experiences can overload her senses.
  • Playdates. They’re fun, but difficult at first for toddlers. Keep them short so your child stays contented.

Coping with an overactive toddler

  • Keep a routine. Active toddlers like to know what to expect and so do you.
  • Get out every day. The chance to run around a park, whatever the weather, uses energy and can be fun.
  • Avoid dramas when out shopping by keeping trips short and making sure neither of you get too tired or hungry.
  • Give positive attention. Playing and chatting with your toddler makes it easier to stick to important boundaries.
  • Start with small realistic goals. Encourage concentration and gradually build it up.
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How to help a shy toddler

  • Let her observe. Often she just needs time to work out the rules before she joins in.
  • Encourage role play with dolls and teddies to practise interacting.
  • Comment on her nice smile, friendly voice, generous sharing or happy laugh when she does join in.
  • Don’t label her as shy. Instead, make a point of letting her hear you comment on how friendly she is.
  • Be positive. Showing her how to make friends by smiling and saying hello will be more effective in the long run.

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