The formative years with a toddler can be frustrating for both the parents and the child. Especially with a first child, the experience is new for everyone involved, and there will be many growing pains and a lot of learning on both sides.
Toddlers are experiencing perhaps the fastest pace of learning and most stimulus overload they will ever have in their lives, and it can often be frustrating. The toddler, who is eager to learn, communicate, and become independent will become cranky when new tasks, activities, or games aren’t easy enough, commonly leading to tantrums. Parents often don’t know how best to deal with these situations and poor choices in how to discipline and teach the toddler can sometimes cause future behavior problems. If a parent sees early signs of either positive or negative behaviors in their toddler, then it is a good time to engage in formative actions by either encouraging or discouraging such behavior.
A combination of positive and negative reinforcement is considered one of the best methods to develop a toddler’s behavior, especially when the focus is on positive reinforcement. A good example of positive reinforcement is if you consistently reward your child for learning new words or when they do something polite. Something as simple as a friendly smile, a high five, a kiss, or saying “Yay!” would work as a positive reward. You could also give the child a tasty snack or bring his favorite toy. In some cases, it will be necessary to provide negative reinforcement for bad behavior. If your toddler starts hitting another child or throwing things this behavior could be discouraged by taking away his favorite toy. and not giving it back until the toddler displays some positive behavior. You should be careful to make sure that you have an overall positive attitude toward your toddler, and make sure you use positive reinforcement more often than negative reinforcement. After all, you don’t want your toddler to view you as an enemy. Choose a balance between the two methods, and be consistent. Show love and be flexible, but also set strict limits for certain unacceptable behaviors.
Establish routines for your toddler, and stick with these routines. By setting a regular daily schedule for your toddler, you are in fact training them for future life, which is full of structured routines. If napping, eating, playing, and bed times are the same every day, your child will begin to anticipate each event, taking some of the chaos and frustration out of the daily experience. If your toddler anticipates an event, it will be easier for you to divert your toddler’s attention from some other activity, and into the planned activity. The trained anticipation will reduce the chances of a tantrum.
The toddler years are critical in shaping the rest of the child’s life. You must keep in mind that for the toddler, every activity can be a challenge. Tantrums will be normal for any toddler, and by helping your child through such difficult times, you will show your support and confidence in them. Through diligence, love, and wise choices regarding reinforcement strategies, you will play a critical role in the positive development of your toddler’s behavior.