Toddlers: How to Deal with the Terrible Two's!

How to deal with toddlers as they explore your emotions and test your boundaries.

Bargaining is one of the most effective ways to deal with two year olds. However, giving them two choices to choose from rarely works. My daughter often says "No thank you" to both of them. The reward system reigns supreme. Of course there is a fine line between rewarding and spoiling, but if you bargain then both parties are getting something that they want. Rewards act as positive reinforcement for a behavior and create a positive emotion towards the behavior that results in a reward. Yes, this is psychological conditioning. Psychological conditioning is present in our everyday lives although we do not think about it. Reward systems and punishments both reinforce behaviors, but reward systems are usually more successful.

The reward system helps to achieve tasks. When you want your child to do something or to be patient offer a reward for their doing so. If you want them to try and use the potty tell them they can have a cookie if they try, or a cartoon, or a bubble bath (if they like them).

However, sometimes punishments are necessary.

Gage your child's emotions and what they react best to. Toddlers are difficult because they do not care all that much if you take away their toys or other tactile things, which makes it difficult to establish that poor behavior has consequences.The below methods are useful when dealing with all kinds of bad behavior, including tantrums, violence, and extreme boisterousness.

Dealing with bad behaviour:

1. This is a method best used at home! If your child makes a bad choice they are likely looking to make you angry and they enjoy seeing this response. Try controlling your frustration and show your child that they are making you sad instead. Fake cry if you are able to. I know it sounds terrible but usually children do not like to see their parents sad and will apologize and stop whatever it was they were doing. This is an example of avoidance learning. Your child will make a connection between the poor behavior and your sad response. This is avoidance learning. They will avoid the poor behavior to avoid your undesirable response. They will be disappointed in themselves for performing the behavior.

2. Bring your child to your level and bring your face close to theirs to demand their attention and to be sure they are listening. Control your emotions to show that you are dissapointed. Hold their arms firmly and explain to them why what they were doing was unacceptable. Use a variety of words and explain it a couple of times to make sure they understand. Ask them if they understand. This is also an example of avoidance learning, because children generally do not like to see their parents disappointed. Once again, they will be disappointed in themselves for performing the behavior.

These parenting methods also help to build your child's moral compass. They will begin to think about how their actions will effect others emotionally.

Sometimes you have to haul your child out of the grocery store or away from whatever else it was you were doing, but we all need to get things done eventually. If we go home everytime our child demonstrates poor behaviour they will learn this response and take advantage of it when they are somewhere they do not want to be. Leaving should be the last resort.


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