How to Deal With a Misbehaving Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Discipline

Toddlers are balls of energy, and who can blame them? They have just mastered important skills like walking and running, and they can’t wait to put them to good use. Toddlerhood is also a time when children usually start socializing more. The tiny baby who hardly left your arms is now out and about, exploring the world and interacting with others like never before. This makes this stage of development super exciting, but it may also give rise to a fair share of problems.

In their eagerness to get to know the world, toddlers can turn a little too mischievous. This can put them in a host of dangerous situations. They’re also prone to testing boundaries as well as your patience. Your little angel can become a little troublemaker just like that and really put you through your paces. However, the key is not to lose your cool. After all, this is just a phase and there are effective strategies to deal with whatever comes your way. 

Why do toddlers misbehave?

There are as many reasons for a toddler to misbehave as there are toddlers, but some are more common than others. 

For example, since they’re not proficient at expressing themselves verbally, they may be trying to send you a message this way. Maybe there’s an easy fix to the problem, such as feeding them or letting them take a nap. It’s always a good idea to first check if they’re acting out  because there’s an unmet physical need they’re trying to alert you to.

Another possibility is that there’s something else that’s lacking, such as not getting enough attention or not being allowed any independence. Maybe you’ve been too busy with work and haven’t played with them as much as they would’ve liked. Or maybe you’re all over them, trying too hard to protect them. Young children need an outlet for their independence, which is great for developing healthy confidence. For instance, you can let them choose their outfit for the day from a couple of options.

They may also be feeling too stressed or emotional and have no other way to vent their frustration. Think about whether they’ve been any changes at home or in their daily routine. Children can sometimes react to changes this way since they prefer routine and stability. It’s also possible that they’re just full of pent-up energy. You can take them to an indoor playground with plenty of fun equipment where they can get this out of their system.

Sometimes, they’re simply too young to understand how they’re expected to behave in a given situation. Maybe the rules are too complicated or inconsistent. Think about how you could explain them in simpler terms and help them understand.

What can you do to discipline your toddler?

Here are some tactics to try:

  • React consistently: To learn that their behavior has consequences, children need to experience consistent reactions to their misbehavior. Whether you’ll use time-outs, time-ins, or take away privileges when they misbehave, choose and stick to it.
  • Don’t lose your temper: Shouting at the child will only make them distrust you. You can manage your frustration through positive outlets, like asking for the support of fellow parents.
  • Talk to your child: Discuss examples of positive behavior and let them know how you expect them to behave. Point out when they do well and explain why certain behaviors are impermissible.
  • Praise and reward them: Give them plenty of attention when they’re behaving and show them how proud you are of them. You can also hand out small rewards, like letting them have their favorite dish for dinner.