Teaching your toddler his 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, he may not know everything he’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 Baby to learn how to be gentle, but the way you approach the topic is essential when it comes to making sure he’s going to pay attention to what you have to say. Here are some tips in teaching him not just how but also why he might want to be more gentle.
- Set expectations: Baby is learning how he should behave based on what he picks up around him. This includes soaking up your behavior, so setting an example by acting the way you want him to act is just as important as the things you teach him directly. When playing with the family dog, for example, show him how to do soft touches and not to overwhelm the animal. The more he sees your consistent, affectionate interactions, the more inclined he 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 him to do the same thing again, if what’s been missing is your attention. Instead, try to correct his behavior simply, and then move on from the situation.
- Discuss feelings: If Baby is playing too rough with his friends, you’ll want to address this for many reasons. For starters, his playmate’s parents may not want their child to play with him, and having the chance to interact with children his own age is an important part of his 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 him how he would feel if his friend hit him 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 him to replace it with better ways to deal with his frustration. If you’re concerned that he seems especially forceful or combative, or if his aggression seems to be getting worse, it may be helpful to consult his doctor for further advice.