- Be aware that challenging behaviour is perfectly normal and healthy in your child during the second year.
- Try to understand the reason for the behaviour, namely, that your child is probably “testing the limits” in her search for her own individuality and independence.
- Be aware that if your only technique for dealing with negative behaviour is “head-on” confrontation, you are actually offering yourself to the child as a role model for more negative behaviour.
- Directing your child’s attention to some positive activity will be more effective than scolding.
- Realise the consequences of either extreme. Always giving in will create a spoiled child, while always putting your toddler down will result in a poor self-concept – and a crushed ego.
- Giving-in occasionally to your child does not mean giving up your control. Sometimes it’s a responsible choice in the interest of the self-concept and sense of individuality of your child.
- Parents who remain calm but firm are not only best for the child but it is also in the best interest of the parent’s own mental well-being.
Promoting Positive Behaviour – Ages and Stages
Infant – under 1 year
Normal behaviour:- cries to make needs known, gets into everything. Learns by touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.
What parents can do:- Let your baby learn to self-soothe. Comforting your baby when he is sick, hurt or upset – rather than ignoring or brushing off the feeling – will help him learn how to do this. Say ‘no’ when your baby does something you don’t want him to, like biting you. Don’t use techniques such as time-out or consequences.
Young toddler 1-2 years
Normal behaviour:- Is starting to test limits as she explores her independence. May be fearful when separating from you. Will learn to say ‘no’. Curious and wants to explore. Too young to remember rules.
What parents can do:- Create a safe environment that your child can explore. Give your child attention when she is being good. Use redirection, with a brief explanation (‘No – hot’)
Older toddler 2 – 3 years
Normal behaviour:- Is becoming more independent. Becomes frustrated when you set limits, and will show it. Becomes very possessive, doesn’t understand the concept of “mine” versus “someone else’s”. Is easily distracted.
What parents can do:- Some frustration is good because it helps your child to start to learn how to problem-solve. But, remember, there are situations your child won’t be able to handle. Give choices when you can. Explain briefly why a behaviour is unacceptable.
Preschooler 3 – 5 years
Normal behaviour:- Should be able to accept better limits, but won’t always make good decisions. Tries to please and wants to feel important. Can follow simple instructions. Can make choices. Asks a lot of questions. Independent. Tries to tell other children what to do. May tell on others.
What parents can do:- Need to provide clear and consistent rules. Set an example through your own actions. Small and appropriate consequences also work. Approval and praise will encourage your child to do good things. Long lectures do not work.
©Lifestart Foundation 2018