My Advice for Moms of Toddlers about that “Bad” Behavior

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Call it whatever you want…

“Bad”

“Unwanted”

“Undesirable”

“Negative”

“Irritating”

“Junk”

“Frustrating” 

But I have something to say about this so-called “bad” toddler behavior. 

First off, all kids do it, all toddler’s do it. Your toddler is not that unique to be the only toddler to do X bad thing. Been there. Done that. Seen that. Lived that. 

Yes, even the Child Psychologist’s kid has “bad” behavior. And as for that Influencer you follow on Instagram, yep, even her toddler has “bad” behavior, she’s just leaving that part out of all of her reels. 

These “bad,” “undesirable,” and “unwanted” behaviors are common in the toddler years. Why? Because they’re still learning and growing. Because they’re still trying to figure out how to best function in their little worlds. Because they’re still trying to put into practice all of those great skills you taught them. Because they’re not super great at impulse control, self-control, and emotion regulation. 

So while the whining, tantrums, not sharing and taking turns, and inappropriate mealtime behaviors are driving you nuts, know that you’re not alone, know that your child still has some puzzle pieces in his brain that need to be put together, and know that there are easy tools that can help. 

My second thought about this “bad” behavior and our parenting is that we need to stop focusing so dang much on that “bad” behavior. 

Sometimes that’s all we see. We can get hyper-focused on it because that tantrum or that whining is driving us mad. But if we want to get mentally unstuck from this negative situation, we have to be able to see more than this “bad” behavior. 

My favorite tool to use to help parents manage some of these “bad” moments? Praise, hands down. I’ve talked about it before here and I’ll shout it from the rooftops.

Anytime a child – yes, even my child – is having a rough moment, the first question I ask is, “Have we praised those good behaviors?” 

Kids are going to continue to do the things that we praise, the behaviors that we acknowledge. If we just comment on the inappropriate, junky stuff, that’s what we will see more of. If we praise our child for sharing with little sister, that is the behavior we will see more of.

Praise the good and the good will follow. 

Now my last piece of advice is one that I really want you to pay attention to, mama. This last nugget of truth is critical for your enjoyment and happiness in parenting. 

Stop only seeing what you’re doing wrong in your parenting. Stop only focusing on where you need to change. Stop the guilt. Stop the blame. 

None of us are perfect. Not that Influencer and not that Child Psychologist. None of us are perfect parents.

Sometimes you might yell. You might lose your cool. You might say something that you wish you wouldn’t have said. Your parenting is not boiled down to this one moment, or to only these negative moments. 

Apologize where need be, get up, and dust your butt off. 

And now, begin noticing in yourself where you are excelling in your parenting, where you feel like you’re being successful. Focus on those good things. Praise yourself for those good behaviors. 

Focusing only on the negative will do you no good. Praise the good in yourself and the good will follow.

“I connected with my child today.”

“I praised my child at the breakfast table.”

“Wow, I provided a lot of positive engagement during playtime today.”

“I stayed calm during the morning routine.”

“I used a timer and it worked.”

You are the right parent for your child. Believe that.

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