With a whole world to explore and learn about, the toddler years are a time of adventure and fun! Yet while some aspects of their development are happening at lightning speed, your toddler’s sense of acceptable and unacceptable is only just coming into the picture. Lots of things can affect toddler behaviour, including their daily routine, how much sleep they have and what they eat. Although these aren’t usually talked about as part of toddler discipline, they’re a great place to start, because they’re some of the key factors that affect your toddler’s mood.
A growing curiosity
Toddlers are natural explorers, yet their curiosity can easily get them into some ‘trouble’. At this age, they’re only just learning the difference between right and wrong, and part of that involves testing their (and your) boundaries, from climbing on the table to scribbling on the walls!
One way of understanding their behaviour is to try and see the world through their eyes. For example, realising that when they uproot a houseplant to play with the dirt, they don’t know it’s any different from digging in the garden, which you may have been happy for them to do in the past.
Encouraging good behaviour
Understanding what affects your toddler’s moods can be a big help in minimising mischief. Creating a calm, happy environment where you praise good behaviour is also a great way to help your toddler learn how to behave well.
Here are some of the biggest influences on toddler behaviour, along with tips about how you can use them in a positive way:
Feeding: Your toddler’s diet provides vital nutrition for all the amazing development that’s happening, as well as essential energy for all their busy activities throughout the day. Sugary foods can cause highs and lows in their energy levels, which is why low-sugar meals and healthy snacks will help keep your toddler’s moods on a steadier level.
Routine: Toddlers thrive on routine. Regular sleep patterns and feeding times give a basic, reliable structure to their day, so that they can carry on with enjoying whatever happens in between. A familiar, soothing bedtime routine helps calm them down to relax and get into sleepy mode, even after the most exciting day of their life.
A kind, calm reaction: When your toddler has a mishap or does something you’d rather they didn’t do again, a gentle explanation gives them the chance to learn from what’s happened. Their brain is developed enough to start understanding right from wrong, but that’s not to say it will sink in immediately. If your toddler keeps repeating the same behaviour, consistency will help them eventually understand the message. In the meantime, being clear about how to say no effectively, and knowing how to deal with toddler tantrums and other joys of the terrible twos will help you all get through this stage of your toddler’s development.
A busy toddler is a happy toddler (usually!): Apart from when they’re sleeping, toddlers are generally always on the move and getting their hands into everything. Having lots of activities up your sleeve will help to keep them occupied and hopefully out of trouble.