Parenting Your Toddler
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I minimize slowness or dawdling?
How can I prepare my toddler for a new baby?
What should I know about challenging behaviours?
How do I stop my toddler from biting?
Are tantrums normal?
How can I avoid or cut down on tantrums?
What should I do during a tantrum?
What should I do to help my toddler stop whining?
Time does not have the same meaning for your toddler as it does for you. She or he doesn’t dawdle to make your life difficult. Your toddler is just more focused on an activity than she or he is on time. It is normal for your toddler to take a long time when learning new skills, going somewhere, or getting something done.
Since it’s almost impossible to get your toddler to stop dawdling, here are some tips to help:
- Give your toddler plenty of notice that you are going to change from one activity to another.
- Build in extra time when you are organizing your day and week.
- Clearly and simply tell your toddler what you want: “Put on your coat now, please.”
- Get rid of distractions when you are in a hurry. Get yourself ready ahead of time, turn off the TV, and put toys away.
- Tell your toddler about the new baby and answer her or his questions simply and honestly.
- Let your toddler feel the baby kicking and help him talk to the baby “in Mommy’s body.”
- Read books about babies and big brothers and sisters.
- Show your toddler his or her baby pictures and talk about what your toddler was like as a baby.
- Find a baby doll for your toddler to “parent.” Your toddler can change the diapers or cuddle the doll.
- Make any changes in your toddler’s life, such as moving out of a crib to a bed, changing rooms, or toilet learning, long before the birth, if possible.
- Talk to your toddler about what a baby does and needs. Your toddler may expect someone to play with, not someone who cries or sleeps most of the time. If possible, visit friends who have babies so your toddler can see for himself or herself.
Children do not come into this world knowing how to work well with others. It is during the toddler years that they begin to learn what they can and cannot do. This is the time for you to help your toddler learn the basic skills she or he needs to think, care, and act responsibly in the future. Your toddler will misbehave for a number of reasons. Very few (some would say none) of these reasons have to do with wanting to make you angry. Some behaviours can be very challenging for parents, such as biting, tantrums, fighting, whining, and dawdling.How do I stop my toddler from biting?
At one time or another, your toddler might try biting. It is unclear why a toddler may bite, but it’s best if your toddler learns that it is something he or she must not do.
If your older toddler bites:
- State clearly and simply: “No, please don’t bite. It hurts.”
- If he bites while breastfeeding, loudly say, “Ouch, that hurts. Please don’t bite!” and remove your child immediately from the breast. Then try breastfeeding again. Just because your toddler bites does not mean you need to stop breastfeeding.
- Avoid biting your toddler back. It will frighten and confuse your toddler and will not stop your toddler from biting.
- Avoid laughing or taking biting lightly. A nibble on your leg may not seem serious, but a deep bite on a playmate is.
Tantrums can be normal events for toddlers. Your toddler is at a stage where he or she gets upset easily and reacts quickly. Your toddler can easily become overtired, hungry, and anxious. Tantrums are usually more about how he or she is feeling overall than the event that seemed to start the tantrum.How can I avoid or cut down on tantrums?
- Make sure your toddler has regular rest, physical activity, and meal and snack times. If you are out, take healthy snacks and water with you.
- Let your toddler know ahead of time what is going to happen and what you want your toddler to do. When going into the store, tell your toddler what you have planned, “We are going to the store for milk and fruit. You can help me choose the bananas.”
- Find helpful ways for your toddler to share strong feelings. This could be throwing a ball, running fast, or talking about your toddler feelings (“mad,” “sad”).
- Try not to say “no” to every request.
- Give your toddler control over little things. This will help lower your toddler frustration level.
- If the tantrum has started, don’t try to stop it or talk to your toddler. He or she is out of control, cannot stop, and will not hear what you say.
- Stay calm. Take 30 seconds to think about what to do. Do not scream at or spank your toddler.
- Some children are better able to move back into control if they are held firmly but lovingly. Others find this closeness even more upsetting and their tantrum may become worse.
- If you are in a public space during a tantrum, keep in mind that most people will understand. Many people have been in the situation themselves.
- Make sure that your toddler is somewhere safe, where the flailing, rolling, or pounding will not hurt your toddler or others, or damage property. If your toddler is in a shopping cart, make sure you hold on to him or her for safety.
- When the tantrum is over, cuddle and comfort your toddler. Praise your toddler for regaining control.
- Recognize your toddler’s feelings: “I know you are upset about not being able to get that toy.”
- Avoid giving in to whatever the tantrum may have been about. You do not want your toddler to learn that a tantrum will make you change your mind.
Whining is that unpleasant tone between talking and crying. It bothers most parents much more quickly than other challenging behaviours. Whining often happens when your toddler is tired or hungry. You may hear it when your toddler feels no one is listening, or he or she cannot find the words to tell you what’s wrong.
Here are some tips to help prevent whining:
- Make sure your toddler is not hungry, tired, or uncomfortable.
- Praise your toddler for not whining: “I like your grown‑up voice.”
- Try to be a role model.
- Say, “I can’t hear you when you whine.”
Do not give in to the demands of the whining.