Toddlers are classed between one and three years old. This is a period characterised by rapid growth and discovery. These pre-school years are when a child is working out where they fit in the world. This is also when children learn they are independent entities - an often challenging time for parents! The most practical and productive parenting advice is to provide experiences that prepare your child for their future. This should focus on aiding the child to deal with the ups and downs of growing up by developing the confidence and skills to face and overcome life's obstacles.
Some of the more common challenges that toddlers will provide at this stage of their behavioural development include the following:
Feeding - toddlers can be difficult eaters. The first year growth spurt is over and they are learning to try different foods, some of which they might not like. Toddlers can be upset by changes in foods, and prefer to keep to the few meals that they are familiar with.
Learning to talk -- toddler vocabulary is rapidly expanding, so spend quality time with your toddler, taking time to read aloud and discuss content. Hold conversations with your child and show them that you are interested by asking questions.
Sleep - Patterns vary from family to family, but make sure the sleep environment is relaxed and comfortable. Toddlers need 10-12 hours sleep a night. Sleep patterns should be established by now, although some sleep problems can still persist.
Discipline - Children need discipline limits and guidance. They need to feel safe and secure while learning to get along with others and learning to live in society. The best discipline leads to children learning self-discipline.
Tantrums - the anger of a tantrum is often a result of hunger, tiredness, attention seeking or simply being overwhelmed. Set a good example, look for signs and offer praise. Also try stay calm even though this is often easier said than done.
Biting - this is frightening for all parties, not least parents. Toddlers should be encouraged to vent any aggression in constructive physical play/activities.
Clinging - trying to avoid a clingy child is likely to exacerbate the problem. make sure you give your toddler lots of cuddles and avoid pushing them away.
Toilet training - try not to be too competitive about it, and try encourage your toddler to limit use of nappies.
Bedwetting - this is not an uncommon occurrence, which most children will grow out of.
New baby - the arrival of a new face in the family can be a stressful time for a toddler. They will be used to getting all the attention, so ensure you make time for them too.
Rituals - slightly obsessive behaviour, such as watching a video repeatedly, is quite normal at toddler age. It is a child's attempt at controlling and making sense of the world, and he/she will grow out of these set habits.
Keep a positive attitude and make an effort to join in play and activities with your toddler. The toddler years are often fleeting and you may regret it later when school begins!
If you have a toddler and are experiencing trouble with their behaviour, see a child behaviourist near you.