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Behavior Management: 5 Tips to Manage Toddler Behavior

A young woman frustrated with a young girl having a tantrum.

It’s normal for toddlers to exhibit challenging behaviors from time to time.  Kids will be kids. Expecting them to behave perfectly at all times would be unrealistic. Challenging behaviors are a natural part of development as toddlers are only beginning to assert their independence, test boundaries, and learn how to communicate their needs and wants. While we can’t prevent our child from exhibiting difficult behaviors at times, it is our responsibility as parents to respond appropriately when that happens. This is where the importance of behavior management comes in. 

Behavior management is about guiding our children’s behavior, and helping them understand how their actions can result in corresponding consequences. We need to avoid simply punishing our kids for doing something we don’t like. Remember that your child doesn’t misbehave because they want to be “bad”. Children are learning to navigate all of life’s challenging situations and how to react appropriately.
If you’re looking for the best approach to effectively manage your toddler’s challenging behaviors, you’re on the right page. Here are some helpful tips you can use for effective behavior management.

Try to understand your child’s behavior

One of the very first steps to managing your toddler’s behavior is to understand the reasons behind his or her actions. A common mistake among many parents is to immediately assume that their kids are being defiant for no reason. Challenging or difficult behavior happens for a reason. Kids may be irritable because of lack of sleep, or because they’re not feeling well. Other times, children may act out because they are upset about something that occurred. 

Keep in mind that challenging behavior in young kids is always the result of something. If you start by trying to understand why your child is behaving a certain way, then you can figure out the best way to respond. 

Set clear expectations

A vital part of enforcing discipline with children is setting clear expectations. We want our kids to behave appropriately and follow certain rules. However, they may struggle with following these rules because they do not understand what’s expected of them, or the reasons why they’re expected to behave a certain way. 

As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your children understand the “what”, “why”, and “how” of your expectations. You need to take the time to explain these things to your child clearly. Your explanation doesn’t have to be complicated. Just provide brief and clear directions your child can easily understand. 

For example, you can say something like, “You need to wash your hands after playing outside so you can wash off the germs and avoid getting sick.”

Be consistent

Children feel safer when consistent rules are established. Unlike some adults who may be able to make adjustments and adapt to changing circumstances throughout their day, kids need a structure that’s more predictable. Help your child feel more secure in their surroundings by being consistent with your rules. Also, help your little one understand how important these rules are by not bending or breaking them. 

Maintain open communication

For some of us, the advent of the internet has resulted in digital communication interfering with real and more personal conversations. We can see it happening in our families and in our own homes. This is why, more than ever, it’s important that parents make healthy family interactions a top priority. 

Busy schedules and screen time shouldn’t get in the way of quality interactions and conversations with our children. Make sure you allot moments in your day for “communication time” by reducing screen time during meals, car trips, family activities, and other opportunities to interact with your little one. 

Model positive behavior

Young kids learn how to act by observing and watching the actions of their parents and other adults in their lives. Instilling discipline through only words will not be effective if your words are not accompanied by actions. If you want to teach your child how to behave appropriately, be sure to set a positive example for them to emulate. 

For instance, telling your child to share food or toys with a sibling is not sufficient, as he or she may automatically not know how to do this. Instead, you can demonstrate the importance of generosity and sharing by doing so in your own everyday life. You can even exhibit generosity with small gestures by sharing food or money with the homeless, or by donating food or old clothes to charities, for example. 

Effective behavior management may seem challenging at first, but it doesn’t have to be. With these strategies and a positive approach, you can encourage appropriate behavior and instill discipline with your little one.

For more tips and resources on parenting, or if you’re looking for the best childcare center for your little one, please visit ABC Academy.

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