#12DaysOfXmas Day 10: Dealing with BAD Toddler Behaviour Toward YOU

Have kids that have just started their first days at school?  This article may just be for you this 10th day of Christmas.  We all have our days and some days may be particularly challenging.  Many parents will be looking to welcome their toddlers to their very first day at school, and you might be at the cusp of another developmental milestone.  Add many life milestones and life stages, you might be caught in the middle of major meltdowns and maladjustment.

Do not fret parents, because you’re not alone.  Here’s a few tips authored by the good people at WhatToExpect.com, a prolific parenting site for new parents - Bringing it to you straight from us with compliments.  Remember, your kids love you best and they likely show you the worst parts of themselves as they feel safest with you - hence, they also reserve the best (worst) parts for you, without fear that you will leave them unattended and fearful.  Think emotional attachment and secure base concepts.  Now, let’s look at some recommended ways we can remain centred and assist our toddlers to show us that they can also show us other parts of themselves apart from the challenging ones.  We love them for all of them, not just the good parts :)

Day 10: When we feel like strangling them little critters - 5 ways we can help them manage their feelings and behaviours

(1) Give your toddler extra attention. Just because you spend more time with your toddler than anyone else does, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re giving him lots of focused attention. Of course no one can give focused attention at all times, but sometimes when you spend a lot of time together, you both get so used to your routine that you end up trading quantity time for quality time — a surefire recipe for acting out. If your tot isn’t getting your undivided attention by being good, he’ll settle for being bad — which, he’s learned, gets your FULL attention in a hurry! So, when you can, try to make more time to read stories, chat over lunch, or just play together. Instead of rushing to complete a chore when your child is happily drawing, sit down and spend a few minutes drawing alongside him. The extra one-on-one time might top off his attention-craving tank, as it were, and encourage good behavior.

(2) Provide opportunities for your toddler to vent. Holding it together in public and at school takes real effort for your little one (he’s got a lot of big emotions he’s trying to keep under wraps), which is another reason your toddler may collapse the minute the two of you are reunited. He’s exhausted, sick of being “good,” and probably somewhat keyed up as well. From his perspective, bratty behavior in a safe setting is a great way to let off steam. Luckily for you, it’s not the only way. If you notice bad toddler behavior at predictable times — right after your toddler’s Tuesday morning with Grandma, for instance — you might try tweaking your routine a little bit. If it’s running around he needs, a stop at the playground before you head home will do nicely. If it’s quiet time you sense he craves, a few stories or some time spent listening to a favorite CD together might help your toddler transition from acting absolutely angelic to reasonably rational — without stopping at absurdly awful on the way.

(3) Explain how you feel. Toddlers may not be the most empathetic people, but they are capable of understanding that they’ve hurt someone if you point it out to them. So tell your toddler that it makes you feel bad when he hits you or yells at you. You may even ask your tot how he’d feel if he got the same treatment. You might say, “Mommy gets sad when you push her. How would you feel if I pushed you? That would hurt, right?” Or you could simply say, “Ouch! That hurts! Why would you hit Mommy?” Your tot will get the picture.

(4) Delegate to the less-available parent. Frequently, the parent your tot sees less often will get the same special treatment reserved for teachers and relatives. So if you know your toddler will likely give you a hard time at bath time, take a break from each other and let Daddy take over…while you read a magazine and enjoy a peaceful glass of wine. Daddy will bring a whole new attitude toward soaping and splashing that may just break the bath-time battle trend and save you an episode of bad toddler behavior.

(5) Don’t let your toddler get away with it. You can cut your toddler a little slack when you know he’s had a hard day (who else can he “complain” to or act out around if not you?), but make sure you don’t let him take advantage of you. If your little guy hits you, ignores your requests, or demonstrates any other bad toddler behavior, it’s time to reach into your bag of toddler discipline tricks. As much as you may understand where he’s coming from, it’s important that you show him there are consequences for his actions — even if he’s taking out his frustrations on you.