When you find yourself asking — Why is my toddler acting like that? What is up with that behavior? – consider these factors:
- Age-Appropriateness: Is your child’s behavior age appropriate? Our toddlers often act like toddlers. The problem, in a lot of cases, is that adults expect toddlers to understand a lot more or be able to handle a lot more than they can. If your toddler starts acting out, it may simply be that you are asking too much in that situation. This is a scenario we found ourselves in often when we were in public with our toddlers. Sometimes, we really were pushing the limits of how much they could handle, how much we could throw their routine off, how late they could stay out, how patient they could be, and we often found out the hard way that we had pushed a bit too much. That doesn’t mean that you can’t try to do things with your toddler that are out of the ordinary (we often did), but it means that you need to be prepared for potential meltdowns and have a plan for how to deal with them in a way that is respectful to everyone involved.
- Not Being Listened To: Your toddler probably notices you talking, but what are you saying? Are you talking at your toddler or are you speaking with your toddler? Are you taking the time to mirror what your toddler is saying or thinking or feeling, so that they know that they are being heard? Even if you have to say “no” when they want you to say “yes”, helping them see that you do understand how they feel and have taken their perspective into consideration can make communication much smoother. (Excerpted from http://www.phdinparenting.com/)
This is a great article! I believe that with age-appropriateness we have to realize that children’s growth is a gradual process. We must know where our children are holding, in order to help them keep on climbing the ladder. After all, we can’t expect them to reach the top of a ladder if we skip pivotal rungs. Evaluate whether expectations are age-appropriate and realistic.
I would also like to point out the fact when children feel they are not being listened to. Understanding your child is like piecing together a puzzle. It involves listening to what your child is saying, thinking about his underlying message, focusing on his body language…and assembling his complete picture.
All too often, while our child is talking, his words whiz from one of our ears through the other, but we still have not heard what he is trying to express. For example, your seventh grade daughter announces, “I’m not inviting friends over anymore.” Is she trying to say that she no longer has any friends to invite? Or is she telling you that she’s embarrassed that the house is messy and disheveled. Or your ninth grade son says, “There’s nothing wrong with smoking.” Is he trying to assert his power? Be one of the “gang?” Or is he in the mood of being contrary? It’s not enough to merely hear; we must listen, perceive and understand.