This week, the Triple P Team explores toddler misbehaviors, including hitting and biting.
One minute you’re playing beautifully with your toddler. You are stacking and toppling blocks together. Then, the next minute: Whack! You get socked in the arm. A little stunned, you think, “Surely, that was just an accident. There’s no way my darling daughter would hit me ON PURPOSE.” But then it happens again—and this time she is laughing about it!
Toddlers are tiny balls of energy who can, at times, struggle with their self-control. There are different reasons why a toddler might start suddenly biting, scratching, pulling hair, hitting, or pushing families members or playmates.
Teething: Molars and canine teeth tend to come in during toddlerhood—they are painful and may cause your toddler to start chomping down anything they come in close contact with—including you!
- What To Do: Try offering your child a teething ring, biting toy, or something cold to gnaw on.
Reaction: Did you let out a big, “Ouch!” after your toddler tried to take a bite out of your shoulder? Chances are, he thought that noise was pretty darn funny, and who doesn’t love a good joke?
- What To Do: Remain calm. As startling (and painful) as it is to be bitten, keep your response to a minimum: “It hurts me when you bite; I don’t like it.”
Frustration: Little ones who don’t have the words to express themselves can sometimes get frustrated over being unable to communicate what they want.
- What To Do: Talk and read to your child as often as possible to promote language skills. Talk about how you feel with your toddler. Identify their feelings for them so they can learn to identify them themselves. Then set a limit: “I know you are frustrated that you can’t have a cookie right now, but it is not okay to hit.”
Anger: In a world full of new and interesting things, it’s easy for toddlers to feel upset when they want a certain toy or to touch valuables in the home.
- What To Do: If possible, place valuables out of sight or try distracting your toddler with another toy or book to read. Give a reason why they aren’t able to have what they want, then give them something they can have.
For more tips on reducing misbehavior, as well as helping to strengthen your bond, visit lanekids.org.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).
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