Teaching your toddler their own strength
Toddlers can be pretty rough-and-tumble, and though your baby probably doesn’t mean to cause any pain or harm, the fact is that at this age, she may not know everything she’s capable of. This can lead to a tricky situation when it comes to playing with friends, interacting with pets, and especially meeting a new sibling.
It’s important for your baby to learn how to be gentle, but the way you approach the topic is essential when it comes to making sure she’s going to pay attention to what you have to say. Here are some tips in teaching her not just how but also why she might want to be more gentle.
- Set expectations: your baby is learning how she should behave based on what she picks up around her. This includes soaking up your behavior, so setting an example by acting the way you want her to act is just as important as the things you teach her directly. When playing with the family dog, for example, show her how to do soft touches and not to overwhelm the animal. The more she sees your consistent, affectionate interactions, the more inclined she will be to act the same way.
- React appropriately: Of course, you want to nip unwanted behavior in the bud, but be sure you’re reacting without overreacting. If your toddler misbehaves out of jealousy, maybe after the arrival of a new sibling, getting a strong negative reaction from you may just prompt her to do the same thing again, if what’s been missing is your attention. Instead, try to correct her behavior simply, and then move on from the situation.
- Discuss feelings: If your baby is playing too rough with her friends, you’ll want to address this for many reasons. For starters, her playmate’s parents may not want their child to play with her, and having the chance to interact with children her own age is an important part of her development. If your baby is getting too rough, it’s important for you to step in, since it’s your job to set limits for your baby, and other parents may feel uncomfortable doing so. If you need to, pull your baby aside and ask her how she would feel if her friend hit her while they were playing. This may sound obvious, but young children often need the prompt to look at the situation from a different perspective, and realize it doesn’t feel nice to others.
Concern over “rough” behavior is common among parents of toddlers, especially between the ages of 2 and 3, but is typically an issue that can be corrected with patience and consistency. Offering a calm environment, taking note when your baby seems stressed or overwhelmed, can help you find the root of aggressive behavior, and teach her to replace it with better ways to deal with her frustration. If you’re concerned that she seems especially forceful or combative, or if her aggression seems to be getting worse, it may be helpful to consult her doctor for further advice.
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