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Teaching your toddler their own strength

Teaching your toddler their own strength

Toddlers can be pretty rough-and-tumble, and though Baby probably doesn’t mean to cause any pain or harm, the fact is that at this age, they may not know everything they're 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 Baby to learn how to be gentle, but the way you approach the topic is essential when it comes to making sure they're going to pay attention to what you have to say. Here are some tips in teaching them not just how but also why they might want to be more gentle.

  • Set expectations: Baby is learning how they should behave based on what they pick up around them. This includes soaking up your behavior, so setting an example by acting the way you want them to act is just as important as the things you teach them directly. When playing with the family dog, for example, show them how to do soft touches and not to overwhelm the animal. The more they see your consistent, affectionate interactions, the more inclined they 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 them to do the same thing again, if what’s been missing is your attention. Instead, try to correct their behavior simply, and then move on from the situation.
  • Discuss feelings: If Baby is playing too rough with their friends, you’ll want to address this for many reasons. For starters, their playmate’s parents may not want their child to play with them, and having the chance to interact with children their own age is an important part of their development. If Baby is getting too rough, it’s important for you to step in, since it’s your job to set limits for Baby, and other parents may feel uncomfortable doing so. If you need to, pull Baby aside and ask them how they would feel if their friend hit them 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 Baby seems stressed or overwhelmed, can help you find the root of aggressive behavior, and teach them to replace it with better ways to deal with their frustration. If you’re concerned that they seem especially forceful or combative, or if their aggression seems to be getting worse, it may be helpful to consult their doctor for further advice.

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