Raising a toddler is exciting. They are filled with excitement and curiosity as they learn new things and discover the world around them. This is also the stage when they realize that they are separate from their caregivers (like their parents) and feel a sense of independence. As a result, they are more assertive and are able to communicate their likes and dislikes. Some parents find themselves in a conundrum: my toddler is driving me crazy.
Toddlers tend to exhibit a lot of challenging behaviors that all parents struggle with at one time or another. If this is something that you’ve experienced, you have come to the right place.
Defining Challenging Behaviors
Children, especially toddlers, experience a range of emotions. They use various forms to express those emotions such as throwing tantrums and breaking a few rules. It is important that parents and caregivers are able to provide them the support they need when managing their emotions.
How do you know if your child is exhibiting challenging behaviors or if it is normal? You need to understand the different expectations in terms of what is considered acceptable behavior. Here are some examples of challenging behavior in toddlers:
- Violence towards others (kicking and punching)
- Excessive anger
- Tantrum fits
What Causes It?
Once you have established that your toddler is exhibiting challenging behavior, your next logical step is to address it. However, you cannot address these behaviors unless you determine the cause. This will give you an idea of how you can cope with this behavior to stop it or to prevent it from happening in the future.
The primary reason why toddlers and children exhibit challenging behavior is due to their lack of social and emotional skills. Therefore, they lack the capacity to behave a certain way, especially when they are trying to cope with their emotions. In many cases, a child feels overwhelmed by their feelings and does not know the best way to express it or make it known to their caregiver.
To give you an idea, these are the common causes of a child’s challenging behavior:
- Feeling unwell
- Feeling hunger
- Sleepy or tired
- Excessive screen time
7 Challenging Behaviors and How to Deal With Them
Here are the common challenging behaviors among toddlers and recommended steps on how to deal with them.
1. The “No” Attitude
This is when your toddler says “no” to almost everything. Whether it’s their food or wearing their clothes, you can’t get them to do it.
You must keep in mind that toddlers are realizing they are separate from their caregivers. This makes them want to assert their independence by expressing their opinion about things around them. To deal with this, you have to speak to your child with a soft yet firm language. Explain to them why they need to do what you are asking them to do without pushing them.
2. The “I Do That Myself” Attitude
Whenever you want to do something with your child, such as feed them or change their clothes, this is their response.
Toddlers are naturally curious about the world around them. They want to explore it by doing things on their own. Toddlers want to feel like they are in control. Support this desire to learn and try new things by giving them enough freedom to do what they want to do, instead of putting a limit on it.
3. The Throwing of Things
Does your toddler like to throw things (such as their toys)? Do you notice them dumping these items out of their play area as soon as you put them in it?
This can be frustrating for parents as you have to clean up after their mess. But allow your child to make a mess. It is part of their learning, exploring, and discovering things.
4. The “Mine!” Attitude
Your toddler lacks the social skills of an adult, so it is not uncommon for them to not know how to share yet. When playing with other kids, your child might not be willing to share their toy, simply because, as mentioned, they do not have the developmental capacity to know the concept of sharing yet.
The best way to deal with it is to teach them the value of sharing, but don’t push them too hard if they are not yet ready.
5. The “Vortex” Attitude
This attitude is exemplified by your toddler’s penchant for running, spinning, and constant motion.
Toddlers have a ton of energy, but they might not know how to channel that energy. For parents, this can be frustrating or embarrassing, especially when you are in a public place. But don’t let that feeling overcome you, allow your toddler’s behavior to just be. Most people are tolerant of toddlers’ behavior in public spaces while others are not. Just take everything in your stride.
6. Hitting and Biting
Toddlers are frustrated easily, and when they become frustrated, they express that by hitting, biting, or punching. They have no proper way to communicate that frustration yet through verbal forms and can only do it physically.
When your child does this, you need to speak to them firmly but kindly. Let them know that what they are doing is not right and tell them what you want them to do instead.
This one needs no explanation. You’ve either experienced it with your own toddler or witnessed it with someone else’s.
Tantrums are one of those challenging behaviors exhibited by toddlers. It is part of their coping process with their emotions. They do not know yet how to explain how they feel, so they have a tantrum instead.
To deal with this challenging behavior, speak calmly to your child. Check what it is that is causing them to feel anxious or uneasy. As a parent or caregiver, you need to stay calm and speak evenly to them. You should also wait it out. Eventually, the tantrum will subside.
If you find yourself asking the question: “Why is my toddler driving me crazy?” It is best to reflect on the behaviors mentioned above and determine the best approach to cope with such behavior. Patience is a key attribute to display to successfully deal with a toddler’s challenging behaviors.