Advice Column, Toddler

Common Toddler Issues

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Managing toddlers can be a huge effort at times, especially when the parent has to get something done or be somewhere. They have a mind of their own and it can drive parents crazy.Here are four classic toddler questions I get frequently and my suggestions on how to handle them.

When a toddler refuses to put on her coat to go outside? Here are three options to consider in the moment that a power struggle flairs up:

A.) Make putting on coats a fun activity because they love to have fun

B.) Make the child “the boss” of making sure everyone’s coat is on and buttoned up. This will satisfy their need to be in charge

C.) Give the child a choice. You could say to her “You can go out if you put your coat on, or we can stay inside instead.” If her response is to throw a fit about it, let the fit occur and ignore it. Finally, if it’s a situation in which the parent must go somewhere immediately, use A or B above and if they don’t work get a sitter to stay with the child or reschedule the appointment until you can get one.

When a toddler tattles on another someone? My advice is to always listen quietly and get the child to focus on solutions to the problem that they can apply, if there are any. A parent must never scold or punish a child for tattling because they should always want their child to feel comfortable coming to them about any potential problem, real or perceived. Parents should also avoid rushing in to solve problems (unless your child’s safety and well being is at risk in that moment) or the child may not learn how to solve his own problems. The parent can go with the child to the situation and coach him in what to say or do to address the problem. For example, if your child is hit by another child and runs to tattle to you, you can ask the child to describe what happened and how it felt. Then coach him in knowing what to say to the other child, such as, “I won’t let anyone hit me, keep their hands to yourself!”

When a toddler won’t get in her car seat. Toddlers don’t transition well, so the trick is in getting them to transition effectively. Assuming the child is not over tired or hungry, find a way to get her excited about getting in the car or getting her excited (from their perspective) about getting to the destination. Unfortunately, too many parents are usually stressed and rushed getting out of the house and the child can detect this. They then mirror it by refusing to cooperate. As I like to say, PEACEFUL PARENT, PEACEFUL CHILD. If the parent is successful at getting the child into the car, the child may begin kicking the seat. I suggest taking off her shoes and let them kick. Parents will also be more successful during these trying times if they speak less, manage their own anger, and avoid scolding or lecturing.


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