Top 10 Toddler Behavior Management Strategies

Whilst Toddler Behavior Management strategies sound archaic and disciplinarian, they don’t have to be and in reality, should not be either.

As babies grow to toddlers, they begin to separate themselves from their parents and caregivers and begin to explore their own identities and the world around them. This means that whilst sometimes their behaviour can appear challenging and assertive, all they are really doing is learning vital communication skills to express their likes and dislikes, or ideas, wants, and needs.

In this crucial stage, discipline is the last thing that should enter a parent or caregivers mind. Treating a child poorly results in the child treating others poorly and it creates a difficult downward spiral. Instead, we should take knowledge from philosophies that encourage understanding and communication. If you, or another adult were simply trying to express themselves, the last thing you would want to do is heighten the feelings of frustration and helplessness, so use these strategies to avoid that and instead reach a place of collaborative understanding.

1. Set Your Expectations Ahead Of Time.

Setting expectations harbours success because your child knows what is expected from them in a given context. For example, while no child is excited for bath time, establishing the boundary through addressing a potential issue helps keep the connection to you whilst making clear your expectations.

Saying things like “I bet you wish you didn’t have to stop playing and get ready for bathtime” makes clear the process of behavior that your child must conform to, whilst maintaining a warm, supported relationship with your child as they feel their problem and perspective is understood.

2. Utilise Distractions.

Out of all children, it is toddlers especially who have the shortest attention spans. Engaging the thinking brain can calm and reset any strong emotions your toddler could be feeling about something in specific.

To do this, distract their attention by introducing a second thing, experience or item and activate a choice between the original source of emotion, and your new secondary choice.

Then revert back to the original source of the emotion and act excited or curious about the second option. This diverts your toddlers attention initially and then sparks curiosity into the new object, experience or thing you are excited or curious about.

3. Don’t Punish

Short-term solutions such as fear-based obedience, or strategizing punishment and reward are detrimental to children of all ages in the long-term.

Giving in to their demands for the sake of peaceful and easy conflict resolution teaches your toddler that by deploying this behavior, they will always get their own way which leads to exacerbated challenging behaviors later on.

Attempt to use the distraction technique and divert your toddlers attention away from the thing or situation they have had a negative reaction to. Act excited or curious about the thing you want them to. “I’m sorry that we can’t feed the ducks right now, but we can go on the slide.”

This open discourse strengthens a harmonious, healthy connection.


4. Strengthen Your Connection

Any parenting falls short if it lacks connection. Connection is a core principle of any healthy relationship with our children and connection can be used to establish clear, openly discussed boundaries.

If our children do not feel connected to us, often they will feel unloved and will become prone to bad behaviours to rebel limits we have set. By connecting with our children, they feel the love from us and in turn, respect us and our limits – once again diverting the need for punishment and alleviating any challenging behaviours before they become established as habits.

5. Constructively Encourage Self-Control

If your toddler has started using inappropriate behavior such as hitting, make sure firstly that they are aware the action or behavior they are engaging in is wrong.

If they are not, let them know it’s wrong by respectfully explaining. If they are aware, then don’t repeat yourself. Some adults seem to think that children that do something they aren’t allowed to do don’t understand right and wrong while the problem is mostly that they cannot control their strong emotions.

If he knows what’s right and wrong, you instead need to help him to constructively manage emotions as well as making sense of his emotions and behavior by naming emotions and explaining the situation.

6. Display, “Do As I Do”

Children learn by watching our behaviour. If they witness threats, manipulation or any other negative behavior, they think that this is acceptable and is the way they should behave.

Instead, guide your child to better, constructive ways of thinking and learning by identifying triggers to certain emotions or scenarios, and then being mindful of your own reactions amongst those scenarios. Allow your children the freedom to connect with themselves by modelling this behavior in how you think, feel and are challenged by daily life.

7. Don’t Overprotect

Whilst most parents want to wrap their child in cotton wool and maintain their happiness at all times, children do not grow or learn this way. Happiness is important but should not be the singular goal. Children can and should grow and develop through struggles, and should not be shielded from challenging scenarios. Instead, parents should keep an open communication around the struggle and address their own worries, anxieties or fear about the scenario.

8. Encourage Empathy

Empathizing with our children instead of trying to restrict or control them, or minimise their feelings and offer quick fixes is a key way to maintain connection. Establish empathy through listening to let your child truly be heard. Use the knowledge of what your child is trying to communicate to foster a collaborative solution.

9. Use Compassion

Compassion can extend to all situations and scenarios. Whether your child’s issue seems whimsical or minor in comparison to something in your day, or you are in the middle of a conflicting scenario, seek empathetic understanding to begin the process of responding from a more loving, wholesome place of compassion.

10. Finally, Be Aware Of Your Behavior.

If we are more aware of our own emotions when in highly stressful moments, and take a moment to pause and reflect before we speak, we can react differently, from a place of calmer, deeper understanding. This serene approach will strengthen your bond to your child as it encourages communication and collaboration in addressing and resolving issues.

Read more:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *