Parents with toddlers spend a huge amount of time counting to three. “One. Two. Three.” Sound familiar? Other than setting yourself up for failure, the age-old ‘counting to three’ trick has become little more than a catchphrase that your toddler soon learns to tune out.
No one knows exactly what is supposed to happen when you get to 3 – other than dad losing his cool, and mom upping the ante and counting to five. If you’re living through the daily struggle of dealing with a troublesome toddler, try following these simple tips.
1Work as a team
Parenting isn’t a popularity contest. It’s important that all bad behavior is met with a united front from the grown-ups in charge.
Playing ‘good cop, bad cop’ might work in films, but you’ll only be prolonging the problems and giving your toddler a surefire way of getting the attention they want if one parent always runs to their rescue. Decide on how you want to handle the difficult behavior, and then stick to the plan!
It can be tempting to get into a screaming match with your toddler when you’re sleep-deprived, perpetually late and your little one decides to vehemently uphold the idea that socks aren’t for them. Tempting, yes, but not wise.
Try to remember that a toddler’s outburst is age appropriate, but screaming back is not. Learn some tips for staying calm in a crisis from an air traffic controller and you’ll be prepared for anything your toddler can throw at you – except yogurt, no one is prepared for that.
3Focus on the good behavior
When it feels like your child is more of a screaming mass than a lovable toddler, it can be easy to think that your toddler is always naughty. Once you start apologizing for their behavior and telling other people about your concerns, you internalize this idea and it becomes the focus of your attention. The intervals of screaming start to dominate and you fail to notice the times when your child is well-behaved.
By focusing on the good behavior, you will not only help your toddler to understand that bad behavior will not be rewarded with attention, but you also change your own outlook on the situation. By shifting your perspective, you will be better equipped to handle the screaming outbursts, while rewarding periods of good behavior with your devoted attention.
4Look for the source
Small changes in a child’s life can present as behavioral problems without any obvious links. Other times, there is a clear link between your child’s mood and whether they’re hungry, tired or they’ve had too much sugar. Young children thrive on routine, so look for ways to normalize things as much as possible and protect them from external factors, such as a change in one parent’s working schedule. If your child is displaying excessive behavioral problems, you might want to seek the advice of a professional to ease your concerns.
Building a routine is essential for creating harmony in your home, and the same goes for your approach to dealing with bad behavior.
If you laugh the first time your toddler crams a slice of cheese in the DVD player, don’t be surprised if he tries it again and again. This ties into the idea of working as a team, as you will need to decide what is acceptable, what isn’t, and then be consistent in your approach to discipline.
Be a Child Whisperer
Bonus tips to make life with tantrums easier!