Toddlers and mischief

By nature, many toddlers are extremely energetic, and can seem to have a natural inclination to stir up trouble or do things that could be considered unsafe or impolite. What is it exactly that compels a toddler to scale the television stand, or to take off all their clothes in the middle of aisle six in the grocery store? We may never completely understand what’s going on inside your toddler’s brain, but there are some things to know if your toddler has been particularly mischievous as of late.

Toddlers can’t help being curious

By nature, toddlers are interested in the world around them. They want to learn, play, explore, and try new things. This instinct is good; it helps them learn more about the world. But toddlers don’t always consider the potential dangers of a situation, meaning that it’s up to parents to keep their curious toddler safe and out of harm’s way.

Embarrassment is just a 13-letter-word

This is especially true as your toddler starts to explore and learn more about their body. It’s natural for toddlers to want to be naked, to ask questions about their body, or to touch themselves in ways that surprise you. But just knowing that isn’t necessarily reassuring when you have to lure your nude toddler out of the neighbor’s garden, or field questions about sex at a family function.

The best way to handle potentially uncomfortable situations is to be as prepared as possible beforehand, to keep your actions controlled and firm, and to answer Baby‘s questions or explain appropriate behavior in a way that you’re comfortable with, and that they understand.

They heard you – they just forgot what you said

It doesn’t matter if you just told them not to touch that thing; your toddler needs to hear that direction again, and again, and again. Toddlers can’t be expected to remember things their parents said for the rest of the day. While your toddler is this age, repetition is your friend.

They need different instruction (and diversion)

This is all about helping your toddler and giving them appropriate outlets for their energy and desire to explore. For example, if you walk into the living room and find them climbing the stairway railing like a tiny circus performer, yelling “get off that!” won’t inspire them to return to safer ground. Instead, you want to give your toddler specific directions like, “feet need to stay on the floor”, and help them down. A good follow-up activity is to find them a safer place to climb.

Until they are around 3 years old, your toddler will probably be a super active little bundle of curiosity and interest. In time, toddlers mellow out. For now, focus on keeping Baby safe, be ready to step in whenever necessary, and try to provide them with opportunities to run, play, explore and grow.

  • “Understanding Early Sexual Development.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 2016. Web.
  • “Help!! He’s Into Everything: Toddlers’ Curiosity at its Peak.” Education material from Oklahoma State Department of Health, May 2008. Web. 
  • “Toddlers Exploring the World.” University of Illinois Board of Trustees, 2016. Web.

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