What’s going on for baby?

During this stage toddlers will become more assertive. They’ll want to make decisions for themselves and will often resist when their parents try to get them to do things.

This is part of the process of becoming ‘their own person’, separate from their mum and dad. It is part of normal, healthy development, and is not something children do to annoy their parents (even though it can feel like that some days).

They will have challenging behaviours such as tantrums, refusing to do as asked, saying ‘no’, whining and grizzling. Again, these are normal and expected behaviours during this stage. They want to have a say in what happens to them.

They will be happy spending time with people they know and trust. They may experience stress at times when they feel like a ‘big person’ but are not able or allowed to do everything they want.

They won’t have the language to tell whānau how they feel, so they express their feelings through their behaviour instead.

At this stage toddlers are likely to find it difficult to take turns or share with other children. They don’t always understand that they’ll get that thing back or have another turn.

How can parents and whānau help?

  • Be patient and try seeing the funny side of things.
  • Allow enough time. Being hurried doesn’t help a child of this age to co-operate.
  • Tell them about an upcoming event and make sure they hear you — for example, ‘When we’ve finished this …, we need to go’.
  • Give them 2 choices that parents are happy with. Letting their toddler choose can help with their willingness to co-operate.
  • Let them do as much for themselves as possible. This helps them to feel like a ‘big person’.
  • Remember, some things are not negotiable — for example, being in their car seat when travelling in the car.
  • Have a small number of family rules based on what is safe and appropriate for their child’s age and what is acceptable in their whānau.
  • Be consistent about helping their child to keep the rules and show appreciation when they do. Thank them for being co-operative — ‘catch them being good’.
  • Be firm and calm, without being harsh, when they don’t do what’s expected. Show them that having a tantrum, grizzling and whining doesn’t change the rules.
  • Tell their child they understand how they’re feeling, and name their emotions for them, so eventually they can say ‘I’m angry’ instead of having a tantrum.
  • Remember, tantrums can be as stressful for the child as they are for the parent. They may be­ feeling like a ‘big kid’ one minute and then anxious and upset the next. At these times they need dad or mum to stay calm and to reassure and comfort them.
  • Enjoy activities like ball play where they learn to take turns. Using words like ‘your turn’ and ‘now my turn’ helps toddlers understand that sharing means having turns.
  • Use a timer when there are more people than things and everybody wants them. When the timer rings, it’s changeover time.

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