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Toddler Behaviours You Shouldn’t Worry About

We all have moments as parents of toddlers where we think ‘is this normal?!’ 😱

Most of the time what we have heard from society’s expectations is that a child should be quiet, calm & ‘well behaved’ in order to be acceptable.

However, this completely goes against toddlers (and even older children’s) natural behaviours! In turn, this makes parents feel like they are doing a bad job, when in actual fact they are doing amazing and it’s just the developmentally correct behaviours for their child’s age!

So what shouldn’t you worry about, what is normal?

Screams & Tantrums

Well firstly screams and tantrums are a daily part of the toddler years… although it’s extremely hard to deal with and can become frustrating as the parent, you have to remember that they are just starting to discover their voice, their own independence and autonomy, they know they have an opinion and they naturally want to question and challenge the authority in their life. THESE ARE ALL GOOD THINGS!

Now that doesn’t mean you should encourage tantrums at all, but just expect that it’s going to happen and be prepared so you have the right tools to deal with it when they happen. You can help your child by acknowledging their emotions and using deep breaths, stress balls, emotion posters etc to work through difficult feelings. Your child will go on to be an emotionally secure human with the right coping mechanisms for when life gets tough.

Running Away From You

Another one is running away from you. Again, this is totally normal and developmentally correct for a toddler, your little one wants their own independence and doesn’t understand the safety aspect of staying with you yet. Now this isn’t one to be encouraged at all, it’s important that we speak to our toddlers about hazards such as pools of water, cars on the road, difficult strangers etc so that they understand exactly why they can’t run away. They are not likely to be happy with this and you will probably get some tears but over time they will start to understand the importance of staying close, holding your hand etc

Hiting, Biting & Throwing

This is one that I know a lot of parents struggle with. This one can cause real damage, either breaking objects or physically hurting others. It can be a huge challenge to stay calm and collected when your toddler has thrown and broken something important or hit/bitten and hurt you or someone else. The main thing here is that we stay cool and remember that these are all totally normal behaviours for their age. Either that they are looking for stimulation and need to be redirected to a safer form of throwing, for example explaining that we can’t throw ornaments inside because they break but we can throw a soft ball outside. Or they could be overwhelmed with emotions that they don’t yet have the language to express so they become frustrated or over excited and turn to biting/hitting. This is where, even when it hurts, we need to put in the firm but kind boundary. Be very clear but gentle and say ‘hitting is not allowed when we feel …. emotion but what we can do is …’ and again redirect them to a different activity to help them work through the emotion. We love THESE emotion posters that help children understand how to regulate their emotions. With bigger stronger toddlers you may have to physically hold them to enforce the boundary so that don’t hurt themselves or others. But we always do this calmly and kindly, be there for them, hug them and hold them and talk through it with them until they relax. This may take some time, but in the end they will know that you were supporting them the whole way.

Not Sharing / Playing 'Nicely'

One I see a lot of trouble over is toddlers not sharing or playing nicely with other children. Either parents being upset that their child isn’t sharing or other parents judging children for not sharing with their child! Fully cooperative playing and sharing is NOT a skill that toddlers are developmentally ready for until around 4 years of age! Expressive complex language & empathy skills don’t come in for at least the first few years of their life so you cannot expect that a 2 year old will be able to share happily with another child. What you can do, is SHOW your child how to share. Whether that’s sharing your snack with them, or ‘taking turns’ with them with a toy. And when they are having a play date with other children, try to encourage parallel play whilst they are still young so that there is no conflict over toys.

There are so many behaviours that are totally normal for toddlers but we are made to believe that our children are ‘naughty’ or that it’s bad parenting. You can take encouragement in the fact that your children are doing perfectly fine as they are, don’t expect too much from them too young! I hope this has given you some guidance on what is normal, and how to help your child develop important skills and work through difficult emotions and behaviours.




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1 Comment

Jul 24, 2023

The tantrums is a big one in our house right now! Thanks for the tips!!

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