How to Improve Your Toddler’s Behavior – 5 Positive Tips
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Being a toddler can be more frustrating than we parents often realize.
While you might be stressed trying to deal with tantrums and miscommunication, it’s important to truly understand your toddler’s behavior so you can work on improving it.
In short, this is an interesting time of life for your child. They’re stuck somewhere between wanting to be more independent and still relying on you for almost everything.
Because your toddler may not always be able to communicate what they want or need, they often act out in different ways. If you’re the parent of a toddler, tantrums are likely no stranger to you.
So, how can you really help to improve your toddler’s behavior and make life easier for both of you?
1. Express Your Love
It’s easy to think that getting your toddler to behave means enforcing a bunch of rules and even punishments. While those factors play a part, you’ll actually motivate your child to behave more when you express your love.
Acts of love and affection should always outweigh punishments. When your child feels loved and secure, they’ll be less likely to act out negatively.
Give them attention and praise them when they do something good.
2. Understand Your Child’s Limits
Many times, toddlers go into “tantrum mode” because they simply can’t handle what we’re asking them to do.
You know your child’s abilities and limits better than anyone. It’s important that they understand what you’re asking and they’re mentally/physically able to do it.
You can also avoid situations that you know will trigger a tantrum in your child. Things like long outings or giving them something to play with that they can’t fully understand can be a problem for a lot of toddlers.
Learn their limits and cater to them accordingly.
3. Communicate Effectively
Toddlers often get frustrated when they feel they can’t communicate their needs or wants.
It’s important to encourage your child to use the words they know to communicate with you effectively. If they’re too young to speak, work on other ways of communicating such as signing.
The more your toddler feels like they can “talk” to you, the less frustrated they’ll feel when they need something.
4. Avoid Saying “No” All The Time
It’s okay to say “yes” every once in a while. Picking your battles as a parent of a toddler will make things easier on both of you.
Think about what you’re really saying no to, and how it will affect you and/or your child.
If there are things you’ve been strict about that you could say yes to, try easing up and letting those situations happen.
5. Enforce Consequences
If your child misbehaves and there aren’t any consequences, it reinforces to your child that misbehaving is acceptable.
There are different types of consequences to consider. Some will happen naturally.
For example, if your child doesn’t eat their dinner, they’ll be hungry later.
But, if their misbehavior is causing a problem, it’s up to you as a parent to enforce consequences and discipline. This can include anything from taking away a favorite toy to putting the child in “time out” for a while.
You’ll be able to get creative when it comes to consequences. Some will work better for your child than others. It all depends on their personality and what they respond to.
Lead by Example
Understand that your toddler will likely misbehave now and then. They’re learning how the world works as well as learning what is acceptable and what isn’t.
It’s up to you to guide them in the right direction. The best way to do that is to lead by example.
When your child sees your own daily behaviors, they’re more likely to pick up on what they should and shouldn’t do. By being a positive example and following some of these tips, you’re likely to see a difference in your toddler’s behavior rather quickly.
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Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!