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Parent Tips

How to Handle Toddler Behavior Problems

A young boy in a denim jacket is yelling.

Most challenging toddler behavior problems aren’t  random. Toddlers behave the way they do for a reason. Because they are so young and still developing their language skills,  they aren’t usually able to communicate effectively with adults. In some cases, managing and resolving the difficult behaviors of young children involves finding new communication strategies or even lifestyle changes. If you find yourself caught in these types of dilemmas, here are some tips you might find useful. 

Physical Activity

Kids in general tend to be very energetic. Sedentary kids may sometimes act more aggressively than those who are more active.  This is because when little kids have too much pent up energy, it can make them restless. Some unstructured exercise time can be very helpful for children.

Safe, indoor exercise is fine. There are many ways for kids to stay active, so parents should be able to find some form of physical activity that their children will enjoy. Of course active toddlers can certainly still exhibit behavior problems. However, when parents make sure that their kids are getting enough exercise and their children are still acting out, they can explore other potential causes of challenging behavior.

Consistent Schedules

Older children may benefit from having flexible schedules, since it can help them learn how to manage their time. However, this is not the case for very young children. Little ones often become anxious when their daily routines are disrupted. Children at this age aren’t used to novel experiences, which is one of the reasons why they tend to enjoy eating the same foods and hearing the same songs repeatedly.

Little kids tend to feel safer when their schedules are more repetitive and predictable. Parents might not be able to always adhere to a consistently perfect schedule, but sticking as closely to a routine as possible can be helpful when faced with behavior problems.

Evaluating the Situation

Some children behave negatively in some situations but not in others. For example, your child might have specific foods he or she doesn’t like, or places he or she doesn’t enjoy visiting. If parents are able to avoid those places or foods, it might be a good idea to do so.

You can encourage ids to become more adventurous as they get older. Many very young children like to avoid certain experiences for reasons we may not understand. It’s also important for parents to allow their children to set their own boundaries in these kinds of situations.

Behavioral Reinforcement

Even young children who misbehave frequently can still exhibit more desirable behavior at times. When this happens, parents should try to recognize and reward that behavior in some way. Children who primarily receive attention when they misbehave will sometimes misbehave just to get that attention.

Toddlers are still learning about cause and effect. If they receive praise when they behave well and constructive criticism when they behave more negatively, their own behavioral patterns will usually adapt accordingly.

Many parents find some success by using a specific reinforcement strategy. Giving children a toy when they behave well, and taking that toy away when they behave poorly can help children understand that actions have consequences. This method can be more effective than many forms of punishment.

Losing a toy may be upsetting to a child, but since a toy is not an essential item, toddlers are not being harmed when a toy has been temporarily taken from them. As long as parents make it clear that they’ll get the toy back once they change their behavior, kids will feel like the situation is within their control.

Many forms of punishment can make kids feel like they have no control over their lives. Toddlers are often trying to test the existing boundaries at home when they behave poorly. They need to know what they can and cannot do, and it helps if they feel that they have a sense of power. Children in general have very little power. Using appropriate behavioral reinforcement techniques can help kids learn self-control.

Seeking Outside Help

Parents don’t have to address their children’s behavior problems alone. Some toddlers have particularly serious emotional and psychological issues. They might exhibit very aggressive behavior for months, or they may even physically attack other children or adults. Parents shouldn’t just assume that children who display these types of behaviors are just going through a “phase”. Children who behave this way might actually have some diagnosable emotional or behavioral disorder, and a professional pediatric psychologist can help.

Some toddler behavior problems may not be that severe, while some others can also be extremely overwhelming. Feel free to refer to these tips to help you handle toddler behavior problems and nurture a better parent-child relationship with your little one.  

For more tips and tricks on parenting, or if you’re looking for the best preschool for your child, please visit ABC Academy


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