Toddlers are awesome and awful! They are so cute and fun and crazy and surprising. They do silly things and puzzling things! I am going to share with you some of the why's behind these things and things you can do to make it a bit less crazy!
- Throwing things. Toddlers LOVE to throw things! There are several reasons why. First of all, it's fun. They recently figured out that they can throw things so they need to practice this skill, over and over and over. Their motor skills are developing and the best way to master a skill is to practice it. They feel the desire to move those muscles to continue development. Sometimes they are trying to figure out what happens to objects when you throw them. When they are throwing things and you need them to stop you have to find a replacement behavior. You can find them something they can throw. For example, get some rolled up socks and a box or basket and have them toss the socks into the box. If possible go outside and throw balls or find a place inside that they can throw soft items. I always encourage a target such as a box, it really helps keep the throwing under control. Keep your language positive, instead of saying “Stop throwing the truck” say “The truck stays on the floor. We push the truck” Telling them what to do, is more effective than what not to do.
- Climbing on everything. Again, they need to move and use those muscles! Try to keep the environment safe and secure furniture to the walls. Teach them how to climb safely. Practice crawling up and down stairs feet first. If you don't have stairs, use your couch, teach them to lie on their belly, feet first and slide down. When you can get to a playground or climbing area do not help them climb up nor place them on higher places then they can climb themselves. They need to learn what they can do to get up and down safely. If you are stuck inside stack pillows or cushions for them to climb on to help meet that need to use those muscles. Again, use positive language, “Keep your feet on the floor.” “Feet first” etc.
- Dropping everything off their high chairs. One reason they do this is that they are learning about gravity. Seriously, they test it over and over to see what happens. Does is change? What if I drop off my spoon? or cup? What sound does it make? Sometimes kids do this when they are finished. I recommend only putting a little bit of food on the tray and not to worry about plates and bowls, they will just go flying! When they are not eating you can play with a variety of toys and drop them onto the floor and talk about the sounds they make, if they bounce, roll, etc.
- Overusing words. This might not be challenging but I get a lot of questions about this. Sometimes kids will use a word when it doesn't seem to fit the situation. The obvious reason is that they have a limited vocabulary. Also, they are trying to express an idea and that may be the closest word they know. For example, a baby says “ow” when you wipe them with a cold wipe during diaper changes, explain that it is “wet” or “cold”. Model the word you want them to say and it will help increase their vocabulary.
- Biting. This is a big one. Kids bite for a variety of reasons. Some kids bite because they are exploring the word and putting things in their mouth is a great way to learn about something, people and body parts included! Some kids bite because the like the feeling they get in their mouths from biting down. If your child likes to bite and chew on things find age appropriate teething items. If your child has teeth then teething toys for babies may not hold up. Try this: chewy tube or this: chewy ring. Sometimes they bite out of anger. This is nothing to feel bad about as a parent. It is an age appropriate reaction. (And yes both of my kids were bitten by other kids, one was bitten 4x in one day, after that the teachers were highly alerted and were able to keep it from happening again. My other son had the skin on his face broken by another toddler biting him. It was stressful and I was upset, but not with the child. He was not yet 2, he was age appropriate in his response, but he was not setup for success in the situation. The teachers did not let that situation happen again.) When you have a child that bites out of anger you have to stay close to the child and list any and all triggers you see. Try to avoid these situations. Give the child a chewy ring, attach it like a pacifier if you have to, to keep it close. Give this to the child to bite on when you see them getting angry. Be empathetic! Say “You are so angry! So angry you want to bite! Bite this.” You will not be successful in just stopping this behavior, you have to substitute a safer one.
These are just a few of the things toddlers do. comment or message me about the issues you have with your toddler and I will address those. Please remember that any behavior you wish to change needs to have a substitute, you can't just stop it, changing it to something more acceptable will allow you to have much more success!