Are there any parents who haven’t felt complete and utter love for their toddler and, at the same time, frustration and anger?
Our beloved little ones test our nerves because they’re testing boundaries all around them. Every day, little by little, they’re mastering new abilities and accomplishing new feats, and are anxious and excited to use these skills.
Sometimes it’s tough to reel in a toddler, but it can be done. And setting rules and limits now — when your child is learning what behaviors are acceptable — will help prevent bigger problems down the road.
Here are some ways to help you keep your youngster on the right track.
When it comes to discipline, it’s important to be consistent. Parents who don’t stick to the rules and consequences they set up don’t have kids who do either. Only issue warnings for actions you can follow through on because empty threats undermine your authority.
And don’t forget that kids learn by watching adults, particularly their parents. So make sure your own behavior is role-model material. When asking your child to pick up toys, you’ll make a much stronger impression if you’ve put away your own belongings rather than leaving your stuff strewn around the room.
By now, you’ve figured out that your toddler wants to explore and investigate the world. Toddlers are naturally curious, so it’s wise to eliminate temptations whenever possible. That means items like TVs, phones, and video equipment should be kept out of reach, as well as choking hazards like jewelry, buttons, and small items that kids can put in their mouths.
And always keep cleaning supplies and medications stored safely away where kids can’t get to them.
If your roving toddler does head toward an unacceptable or dangerous play object, calmly say “No” and either remove your child from the area or distract him or her with another activity.
It’s important to not spank, hit, or slap your child. At this age, kids are unlikely to be able to make a connection between the behavior and physical punishment. The message you send when you spank is that it’s OK to hit someone when you’re angry.
When Tempers Flare
If your child does throw a tantrum, keep your cool. Don’t complicate the problem with your own frustration. Kids can sense when parents are becoming frazzled and this can just make their frustration worse. Try to understand where your child is coming from. For example, if your youngster has just had a great disappointment, you may need to provide comfort.
Ignoring the outburst is another way to handle it — if the tantrum poses no threat to your child or others. Continue your activities, paying no attention to your child but remaining within sight. Kids who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a tantrum should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down.
Some kids will have a hard time stopping a tantrum. In these cases, it might help to say to say, “I’ll help you settle down now.” But whatever you do, do not reward your toddler by giving into desires. This will only prove that tantrums are an effective tactic for getting what he or she wants. Instead, verbally praise your child for regaining self-control.
As their language skills improve and they mature, kids become better at handling frustration and tantrums are less likely. If you’re having difficulty handling you child’s temper tantrums or have any questions about discipline, ask your pediatrician for advice.