Common Challenges for Parents of Toddlers and Young Children
Raising a child is probably one of the most rewarding experiences in life. However, parenting can be a challenging process at times.
Young children typically lack the words to express their emotions, thoughts, and needs, so they often communicate their feelings using inappropriate or challenging behaviors.
To grow into healthy, confident, and well-adjusted adults, children need to be raised with love and understanding.
It is important to understand what causes your child’s challenging behaviors and provide support to your child in developing social-emotional skills. Teaching and encouraging positive behaviors will enhance your child’s development and help them understand and appropriately manage their feelings.
Around their second birthday, kids develop self-awareness and begin to realize that they are separate individuals from their parents and other people. Toddlers begin to understand that they have their own thoughts and opinions and feel driven to assert themselves.
Your two-year-old will want to act independently as much as he can and want to communicate his ideas, wants, needs, and dislikes. At the same time, however, toddlers still have difficulties with self-control, turn-taking, and waiting. This is why “no” becomes an inseparable part of their vocabulary: most of the time your toddler will do exactly the opposite of what you tell her to.
To handle the “no” stage, try to stay calm but persistent. Help your child navigate her emotions and positively express them. Pretend-play, art, and sensory activities can be great channels for your child’s emotional expression.
Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns
The emotional life of your toddler is complex. He is beginning to experience feelings like pride, embarrassment, and guilt, but lack language to express these complex feelings. They also still struggle with self-control and language skills, which makes it hard to navigate through strong emotions. This causes young kids to have meltdowns and temper tantrums when they are frustrated.
Your child may throw a temper tantrum when he is hungry, uncomfortable, or tired or have a meltdown when he doesn’t get something he wants.
Therefore, teaching your child how to deal with frustration is essential for her self-control and the ability to self-soothe. As your child’s language skills improve, tantrums should decrease.
To manage tantrums and meltdowns, stay cool when you’re responding to your child’s behavior. Depending on what causes your child to feel upset, you may provide comfort, provide food or nap, or ignore the behavior.
Distract your child and give positive attention (catch your child being good and reward positive behaviors).
Throwing Toys and Other Objects
Defiant behaviors such as tantrums or throwing toys in young kids come as a natural consequence of their ability to understand independence and to control their environment. Toddlers and preschoolers seek independence but still lack self-control.
Throwing toys may be one of the behaviors your toddler uses to express her distress. They may start throwing toys and other objects because they don’t know how to handle stressful situations or cannot find words to communicate their needs and feelings.
Highly sensitive children (kids whose emotional reactions are intense and overwhelming), kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or those on the autism spectrum usually show more defiant behavior. These children typically struggle with transitions and protest during transition times, as these changes can be very stressful for them. Your response to your child’s defiant behavior will teach them how to respect boundaries and practice self-control.
Take care and keep healthy and positive,