We’ve all faced those moments - demands, pleading, whining, raised voices, crying, screaming and other manners of lashing out. These are examples of how toddlers misbehave, sometimes in public. These moments often seem to occur when a parent is depleted or harried, and not in their best mindset. And even if a parent is, a toddler melting down in public can quickly take a parent to a place they’d rather not be - discomfort and embarrassment.
When it comes to children’s behavior, a parent’s first question is usually, “What should I do?” We tend to want to fix it or get it under control. But it’s important to understand that the behaviors we see in our children are merely the tip of the iceberg; the bulk of behavior issues stem from below the surface. What we see on the surface is a natural extension of the development that’s occurring underneath. Rather than fight against it, parents will find more success in working with a child’s development to teach behavior.
The challenge of discipline is to teach lessons positively rather than punitively. Positive discipline does not mean that the child will always be happy with limits. They may express sadness, frustration and anger at the limits placed upon them. These feelings are normal when we want something we cannot have. A parent can empathize with these emotions but still maintain the limit. A parent should always be accepting of feelings, even when behavior cannot be sanctioned.
Toddlerhood really is a wonderful stage in a child’s life. The behavior of the one- to four-year-old is judged as being difficult and ‘naughty.’ Parents and caregivers can learn how their toddler’s behavior is developmentally appropriate and correct for their age. Here are some stages that toddlers go through and helpful parenting behaviors:
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