Does your house often get so trashed that by the end of the day, it looks as if it’s been burgled? Do you get shouted at, walloped and not given a moment’s peace the second you pick up the telephone? Then there’s a toddler on your hands.
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Your little one has extreme emotions and has yet to develop the skills to deal with them. This leads to frustration and inevitable explosions. Here’s how and why she reacts, and the best way to deal with bad behavior.
• Why. She sees it, she wants it; if you tell her she can’t have it, there may be fireworks. It can be very frustrating being a toddler. Rules, and her own limitations, are always stopping her doing things.
• When. Usually in the most pubic and embarrassing places, like the supermarket.
• What to do. Ignore it. But if that’s impossible, remove her from the situation.
Always stay calm and never raise your voice or argue back. Once the tantrum has run its course, let her know you understand how she feels and explain why she can’t do what she wants.
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• Why. To get attention or her own way. She’ll do it to get a response, and may find it funny when she hears you yelp in shock.
• When. It’s most likely to happen with other children when she’s learning to socialize. But it can be turned on you, too. It’s common between the ages of one and three because your little one doesn’t have the skills or language to deal with confrontation in any other way.
• What to do. Aggression is normal toddler behavior and she should grow out of it. But she needs to know that biting, scratching, hitting and kicking are wrong. Remove her from the situation to show that the behavior won’t be accepted and there are consequences to her actions.
• Why. To get attention or get her own way.
• When. Mostly during a tantrum, when she becomes so upset she struggles for breath. The lack of oxygen is not healthy. However, when she notices the attention it receives, she may use it to get her own way in the future.
• What to do. Don’t let breath-holding bully you into submission.
Deal with it in the same way you’d deal with a tantrum. Stay clam and let her know you understand how she feels and explain why she can’t do what she wants.
Here are four main ways to discipline.
1. Praise good behavior. This gives your child positive attention and shows her what behavior you like.
2. Take time out when tempers flare, take your child out of the situation to let her calm down and to teach her that her behavior is unacceptable. Calmly take her by the hand or carry her to another room. Be gentle but very firm that you’re going to see this through.
Leave and shut the door, saying you’ll be back in two minutes. Never lock her in, but if she comes out, just take her back in, explaining why you’re doing so.
3. Make rules. Rules let your child know where she stands and how she should behave. Ideal rules include set times for bed and proper eating habits.
4. Pre-empt problems. Most bad behavior is preceded by warning signs, spot them and you can stop it before it starts. When your child goes off the rails, ask yourself why. Is she frustrated, tired or scared? Can you deal with that before the explosion occurs?