Understanding 7 Challenging Toddler Behaviours

There’s a common term most of you as parents have probably heard of, and likely have first-hand experience of is the “Terrible Two’s”.

Its not always easy to remember that toddlers aren’t behaving this way just to annoy parents, it is because they are learning how to control their emotions and figuring out how everything works and how this makes them think and feel.

7 Toddler Behaviours and Why They Happen

1. The Tornado – Getting every toy out and throwing them all over the floor within minutes of entering their playroom/bedroom.

Reason: It may seem like your toddler is making a big mess, and in reality, they are, however to your toddler this mess is exasperating their passion for exploring, discovering and learning. So, it’s okay to let them make a mess, just encourage them to tidy it back up by turning it into a fun game.

2. The No! – “No, I don’t want dinner.” “No, I don’t want to go to the shop.” “No, I don’t want to get dressed.”

Reason: As much as this can be frustrating, this is your toddler learning how to become their own person and learning how to voice their opinion. It is important to let your toddler know that their opinions matter but give them simple reasons and limited options. For example, "I hear that you don't want to put on your shoes. It's cold out so your feet need shoes to stay warm outside. Would you like to wear your trainers or boots?"

3. The Mule – When “I will do it myself” is the response to every task that needs to get done.

Reason: As toddlers are learning how the world, they are also learning what they can control and how to manoeuvre within that world. It is important to let them try and do things on their own even if it is taking much longer than you would like. This process can usually be sped up a bit by saying things like, “are you going to put your coat on or shall I do it?” This will usually speed them up because they will want to do it themselves.

4. The Mike Tyson – Pushing, hitting and biting.

Reason: Learning to communicate can be frustration for toddlers, they don’t always know how to communicate what they are thinking, feeling, or wanting. On top of this they are still learning how to control their emotions. Because of this they often express themselves through a physical means. Set up clear and specific rules about acceptable toddler behaviour with logical consequences for misbehaviour. Toddlers will repeatedly try to push the boundaries so consistency and follow through is really key to curbing the inappropriate physical behaviour. It also helps if toddlers are well rested and have a safe place to release their energy.

5. The Scrooge – Mine! It’s Mine!

Reason: Toddlers are slowly learning their social skills and do not yet know how to share. In fact, most toddlers don’t play together they often play side by side because they don’t yet have the developmental capability. The only thing you can do is model sharing and wait for them to pick it up when they are a bit older.

6. The Tantrum – I’m not sure a toddler tantrum can be explained!?

Reason: All toddlers will inevitably have tantrums, it’s all part of them learning to control their emotions. Advice to parents, take a deep breath, try to stay calm, speak evenly and try to establish the cause of the tantrum (If appropriate) and just wait it out. The last part can be easier said than done! Over time tantrums will become more manageable, especially if you can figure out some of the common triggers and try to limit them.

7. The Vortex – Constant moving, sinning and running.

Reason: Toddlers have a lot of energy; it can be frustrating and ever embarrassing if you are in public spaces such as a restaurant. Your toddler will always have lots of energy so this is one you will have to learn to live with, most people are tolerant to exuberant toddler behaviour, so they tend to get away with it with a cheeky grin!

Toddlers will all go through these behaviours and many more not mentioned in this blog, it is all part of growing up and learning to understand themselves and the world we live in.

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