Life can be frustrating for toddlers. Though eager to be independent, small kids can’t generally move as quickly as they’d like or plainly express their needs. They additionally will generally experience difficulty managing limits, compromise and disappointment. This can prompt fits of rage, tantrums and misconduct.
In any case, you can encourage your toddler to act well by giving affection, clear principles and a level of schedule. Clear rules and a degree of routine is all that’s needed. We spoke to Dr Santosh Kumar, Consultant, Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore, to share with us and all new parents a few tricks to deal with toddler issues.
1. What is the best way to tackle toddlers’ tantrums for new parents?
Staying calm is very important. Loud angry outbursts from the parents do not help in any way and there is the risk of the child imitating such behaviour. Instead, calmly distract them, maybe with a change in location, or showing them a different book may help. If the child refuses to calm down and starts screaming or kicking things, hold him/her until it calms down and then explain your rules and how that behaviour was wrong.
2. How do I stop my toddler’s whining to get me to give them what they want?
There is no one right way of breaking the pattern of whining, but one thing the parents must do is not to let it bother them. Keep a neutral expression in front of your toddler when they start whining and wait for them to calm down. Establishing a household rule like “Ask for something nicely and if mom/dad say no, accept the answer calmly” would be effective. This way your child knows that whining will not get them what they want.
3. How do I encourage my toddler to sleep on their own and what is the best way to sleep training them?
Separation for a toddler can be a scary concept. It is very important to do this process. This can be done by developing a healthy bedtime routine. You must start slowly and see how your child reacts while sleeping alone for one or two weeks. If the toddler comes into your room crying, be gentle and take them back to the room. Stay by their side until the child falls asleep, make sure they feel your presence while falling asleep
4. What are some reward systems I can set in place to get my child to eat better?
It is essential to set up non-food rewards systems for eating healthy. Bribing your child with a dessert if they have healthy veggies for a few days defeats the purpose. Instead, you can try these,
- Buy inexpensive items like pencils, bubbles, markers etc.
- Give a few extra minutes of screen time
- Take them for some outdoor activities
- Enjoy a movie night.
- Make a reward chart and keep adding stickers to praise them.
5. What is the best way to encourage my child to share their belongings?
Make them aware of cooperative games where they can do something together instead of indulging in competitive games. You can also have a conversation with your child before they go out to play that it is okay to share their toys with other friends.
Parents can also try encouraging problem solving ability. Give your child and their friend only one toy to play with and ask them “There’s only one car, how can we play with it?”, you will be surprised with the creative solutions toddlers can come up with.
6. How do I get my toddler to overcome their thumb-sucking habit?
- Positive Reinforcement: Offer your child some rewards or praise for not sucking their thumb for a specified period.
- Gently remind them to stop when they start sucking their thumb. Criticizing/scolding rarely works.
- Take your child to a dentist if there is no improvement. The dentist may make the child aware of the negative impact of the habit.
7. How do I get my child to be gentler when interacting with other peers?
The way you treat your children will impact their emotional development and peer relationships. If you show warmth, your child will treat others with sympathy and kindness. You can also boost your child’s ability to control emotions by explaining how their outbursts will hurt others. This will help them to understand the perspective of their peers.
8. What are some steps to follow to get my toddler to interact more with their peers and others?
You can teach your child to have eye-to-eye contact with the person they are talking to. Give them the required exposure and company to enhance their social skills. Make them communicate verbally and non-verbally. If they find it difficult to do so, guide them. Make generous use of polite words like “please” and “Thank you” while talking to them, so they mimic these while interacting with others.
9. What is the ideal screen time for a toddler? How to strike a good balance between gadgets and outdoor activities?
Not more than 1-2 hours per day. Try to limit the screen time and line up a few interesting activities for them that can be done outdoors. Cook a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the park, have a water balloon fight outside, teach your child to stretch and do some exercises. The important thing is to lead by example, if your child sees you having dinner in front of a screen, they will follow suit.
10. What are some signs that my toddler may have entitlement issues? and what are some ways to prevent this from happening?
Some signs to look out for are:
- If the child constantly asks for more.
- They find it hard to handle disappointments.
- Expecting rewards for not misbehaving.
- Acting selfishly.
- If the kid rarely tries to help others.
Ways to prevent entitlement issues:
- Tutor your child about the importance of money.
- Teach them responsibility and empathy
- Do not give in to their unreasonable wants and demands, no matter how much they whine.
- Make your child feel grateful for the things they have.
11. What are some parental behaviours one needs to fix to set the right example for your toddler
- Do not spoil your child by giving them everything they want or expect to avoid entitlement issues.
- Understand the difference between kind/firm parenting and harsh parenting. Hitting/spanking the child should be avoided at all costs. Remember you are their safe space
- This can’t be said enough but lead by example. Show them how to behave rather than just telling.
- Remember to give yourself a break, successful parenting is not about achieving perfection. It is a learning curve. Keep this in mind and take care of your own physical and mental health.