Toddlers are infamous for tantrums and other behavior issues. To encourage listening and cooperation, follow these parenting tips.By Mayo Clinic staff
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- Know your child's limits. Your child may misbehave because he or she doesn't understand or can't do what you're asking.
- Explain how to follow the rules. Instead of saying, "Stop hitting," offer suggestions for how to make play go more smoothly, such as "Why don't you two take turns?"
- Take 'no' in stride. Don't overreact when your toddler says no. Instead, calmly repeat your request.
- Pick your battles. Only say no when it's absolutely necessary.
- Offer choices, when possible. Encourage your child's independence by letting him or her pick out a pair of pajamas or a bedtime story.
- Avoid situations that may trigger frustration or tantrums. If your child always seems to have tantrums at the grocery store, hire a sitter the next time you go shopping. Also know that children are more likely to act out when they're tired, hungry, sick or in an unfamiliar setting.
- Make it fun. Distract your child or make a game out of good behavior. Your child will be more likely to do what you want if you make an activity fun.
- Stick to the schedule. Keep a daily routine as much as possible so that your child will know what to expect.
- Encourage good communication. Remind your child to use words to express his or her feelings. If your child isn't speaking yet, consider teaching him or her baby sign language.
- Natural consequences. Let your child see the consequences of his or her actions — as long as they're not dangerous. If your child throws and breaks a toy, he or she won't have the toy to play with anymore.
- Logical consequences. Create a consequence for your child's actions. Tell your child if he or she doesn't pick up his or her toys, you will take the toys away for a day. Help your child with the task, if necessary. If your child doesn't cooperate, follow through with the consequence.
- Withholding privileges. If your child doesn't behave, respond by taking away something that your child values — such as a favorite toy — or something that's related to his or her misbehavior. Don't take away something your child needs, such as a meal.
- Timeout. When your child acts out, give a warning. If the poor behavior continues, guide your child to a designated timeout spot — ideally a quiet place with no distractions. Enforce the timeout for one minute for every year of your child's age. If your child resists, hold him or her gently but firmly by the shoulders or in your lap. Make sure your child knows why he or she is in the timeout. Afterward, guide your child to a positive activity. If all else fails, tell your child that you are taking a timeout away from him or her for a few minutes because of a specific behavior. Be sure to explain the behavior you'd like to see.