How To Overcome Challenging Behavior

Throwing tantrums, hitting, biting, screaming, and other less than adorable behavior is normal for toddlers. The cause for this behavior can include biological reasons, like being hungry or overtired. They can also include emotional reasons, like not being able to cope with or describe their feelings. Their environment can also influence behavior.

Sure, it’s expected for a child to go through this phase. Especially at their age. But letting these actions go without the correct type of consequence could lead to bigger, more troublesome behavior down the line.

It may seem hard to believe, but your tot isn’t trying to be bad. They’re just doing the best they can with the limited skills they’ve got. Challenging behavior in children always comes with an explanation. The truth is, throwing tantrums, hitting, talking back, and breaking rules are completely normal and age-appropriate. Don’t think of this toddler misbehavior as an act of rebellion, but rather as developmentally appropriate behaviors that result from curiosity, miscommunication, immaturity, or desire for independence.

Understanding where this “naughty” toddler behavior is coming from is important in order to diffuse and prevent this child behavior in the future.

How Can I Redirect My Toddler?

Set Clear Limits 

Respond immediately whenever your toddler is acting up. Remove them from the situation for a brief time-out. This gives her time to cool down, and after a while, they’ll connect the bad behavior with the consequence and figure out that if they hit or bite again, they end up out of action.

Clap Don’t Spank

When you find yourself angry at your toddler’s actions, “clap don’t slap”. Violence is a huge problem in our country. And it has its roots in the home. After all, our toddlers imitate most things we do. If we eat with our fingers, they’ll imitate. If we whistle while we work, they’ll try to do that. So if we hit them when we don’t like their actions, what do you think they learn from that?

Give Them Quiet Time

When negative behavior happens, we recommend you name it: “No biting.” Have your child go to a quiet place, like the corner of a room, but not a separate room. Quiet time should be short, usually a minute per year of age. You can also give some power back to kids who are over three by having them decide on the length of time. There should be no interacting with your child during the time out. But interrupting the behavior by sitting with them, taking deep breaths, reading a book or running around the yard can also work in some cases. No matter what approach you choose, the talking should begin when the child is calm. 

Stay Strong

If you must discipline your child, do not feel guilty about it and certainly don’t apologize. If your child senses your mixed feelings, they will convince themselves that they were in the right all along and you are the “bad” one. Although disciplining your child is never pleasant, it is a necessary part of parenthood, and there is no reason to feel guilty about it. Your child needs to understand when he is in the wrong, it is important to take responsibility for their actions and be willing to accept the consequence.

Take Away Something Valuable

A common toddler-discipline technique you may want to try first is to take away a privilege that’s related to your “little devil’s” offense. And make sure the consequence comes quickly, you want to make sure the child connects their bad behavior with the consequence so they learn from the experience. For example, if your child is throwing a temper tantrum in the morning don’t wait until dinner time to not give her her favorite dessert. Both the infraction and its looming consequence might have been forgotten- which means you’ll have to endure a fresh set of tears when your child suddenly remembers she won’t be able to enjoy her ice cream.

No matter the discipline strategies you decide to choose when your toddler misbehaves, always explain why they are receiving this treatment. A child learns through mistakes, so remember that next time your child is showing behavioral problems.