Toddlers are curious, cute and full of beans! They’re making leaps and bounds in everything they do and it’s so great to hear them chatter away with all those new words. Of course, it’s not just their vocabulary that’s developing, and as your baby grows up, their behaviour is developing too.
Here are 8 things your toddler may do (or not want to do!) and ways to support them through their ups and frowns.
Ah… the ‘terrible twos’ (and threes). Tantrums give toddlers a bad name, but the reality is that your little one is feeling pretty emotional (it’s totally natural) and tantrums are the way they express feelings, like anger and frustration.
Over to you: The best thing you can do is accept that tantrums are a normal part of their development. Try to keep your patience during the meltdown, then support your little one afterwards. Hug it out! And don’t worry, tantrums will lessen as your kiddo learns how to deal with an emotional ‘upset’.
Although most toddlers enjoy playing with other kids, the whole ‘taking turns and sharing’ thing is a work in progress. Toddlers usually think they own everything (especially the toys) and that the world revolves around them, so sharing isn’t exactly a priority.
Over to you: Sharing is at the core of friendships and teaches kids cooperation and patience, so practise sharing at home and encourage sharing with other kids. Praise your toddler when they share well and point out when other kids are good sharers. Sharing is caring after all.
Ahh.. the little food critic. About half of all toddlers refuse to eat a new food at least half the time. This can be a worry and a chore, so it’s important to stay calm and persevere with healthy eating.
Over to you: Set a good example by eating a wide variety of foods yourself. Ask your tot to help make their own meal, and give them lots of different food colours, types and alternatives to try. You might need to offer a new food 10 times, before your toddler will give it a go, so hang in there.
Toddlers are learning about everything and gaining confidence in asserting their opinion. They know what they want and are happy to let you know. Frequently and loudly. This is all normal, and if “NO!” is their favourite word, then that’s normal too.
Over to you: Just because your toddler is telling it like it is (“NO, NO, NO!!!” ), it doesn’t mean they’re all grown up. Strictly speaking, two and three-year-olds are still babies, so be patient and give them independence, while guiding and supervising them. Toddlers love to help and copy adults, so pass that kid a broom. YES!
Every little person is different, and some toddlers are scared of having a bath. Whether it’s the sound of water going down the plughole, a fear of being submerged, or worrying about soap in their eyes, bath time isn’t fun time for all toddlers.
Over to you: It can help to take your toddler out of the bath before pulling the plug, get a non-slip mat, bathe with your toddler or use baby shampoo to avoid sore eyes. And if problems persist, you can always switch to showers.
Toddlers are really getting a grip on language, and there is the chance that a swear word might come out, either accidentally (while trying to say “sit”) or because they’re mimicking a grown-up.
Over to you: If swearing has happened accidentally, help them get their tongue around the word by pronouncing it properly. And if it was intentional, say “that’s not a nice word”. Toddlers like copying adults, so watch your own swearing around them.
A two-year-old thinks their parents can read their mind, but by the age of three they usually realise we’re not telepathic (drats!) This may lead to white lies (like covering up accidents or lying to get a treat) because they think we won’t know the truth.
Over to you: Even though grown-ups lie too, it’s important to teach kids the importance of honesty and make them feel comfortable telling the truth. There’s no point lying over spilt milk!
No parent wants to see their beautiful little toddler biting, pinching, hitting or hair-pulling. However, aggression is surprisingly normal toddler behaviour, and it’s important for you to stay calm and respond quickly and consistently.
Over to you: If your toddler lashes out, take them out of the situation. A tiny time-out shows them the consequence of their actions and, once they’ve settled down, talk through what happened. Explain that it’s ok to feel angry, but not ok to bite or hit. Talk about what they could do instead (like asking an adult for help) and teach your toddler the importance of an apology.
But don’t despair! There are certainly challenges to be navigated, but there are so many positives of toddler-hood. It’s absolutely amazing seeing your toddler embracing language, jumping, scribbling, tricycling and growing into a confident little person.
Every toddler is different, but they’re all more terrific than terrible!