Understanding toddler behaviour

By Karitane

The toddler years may be a challenging time for parents. As toddlers mature and begin to explore the world they will experience a whole new range of emotions which may be difficult for them to manage. Your toddler may need your support to help manage some of these behaviours.

What to remember about toddlers

  • They are finding out how exciting the world is and how everything works
  • They are inquisitive and curious
  • They can’t see that their actions will have an effect on others or themselves
  • They are learning to regulate their emotions and feelings
  • They want to try and test everything
  • Have rapid mood changes
  • Have a short attention span
  • They are striving for independence
  • They will test their limits and capabilities

These points are a normal part of toddler development and may cause parent concern.

A common response from toddlers is “no!”. This can give the impression that they don’t want to cooperate. Be reassured this is a normal part of learning about life e.g. negotiating, discipline, safety and rules.

What toddlers need from you:

  • Love
  • Security
  • To be safe
  • Boundaries
  • Time
  • Play, have fun and be active together
  • Lots of support and understanding to enable them to learn social skills

How to get the best out of your toddler

  • Be a positive role model
  • Celebrate their successes and achievements
  • Get down to their eye level
  • Look for the opportunities to let them know when they are doing the right thing
  • Offer labelled praise – describe what they have done well e.g. Bella, well done, you picked up all your toys when I asked
  • Pick your battles – allow them to explore unless it is dangerous to themselves or others
  • Divert and distract from potential harm or unwanted behaviour
  • Give clear simple instructions
  • Allow opportunities to problem solve. Be available to help if needed
  • Engage with your toddler by spending time reading and playing
  • Encourage your toddler to help pack away after play
  • Allow toddlers a sense of independence, offering limited choices. e.g. red shirt or blue shirt rather than entire contents of wardrobe
  • If they refuse to cooperate, it may be best to remove them from the situation. If there is immediate danger with what they are doing, (pulling on an electrical cord), calmly remove them from the danger. Explain after the risk of danger has passed
  • Help language development by encouraging toddlers to say words of things they are asking for. Remember this is prime time for learning language so talking and repeating words will help build their language

Remember: the way parents and carers respond to toddlers can influence how they progress through life.

The toddler years may be a challenging time for parents. As toddlers mature and begin to explore the world they will experience a whole new range of emotions which may be difficult for them to manage. Your toddler may need your  support to help manage some of these behaviours.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

Gain more Parenting Insights at our Expos

Get your Expo tickets today! View Expo dates