Tricky times with toddlers

When you have a new baby

Some toddlers react to a new baby in the home by going back to their “baby” personas. This behaviour is perfectly normal and once they get used to the baby being there, they will go back to more grown up ways.

“I’m a baby too”
Common signs of regression to baby stages are:
  • bed-wetting or daytime toilet accidents
  • crying
  • whining
  • tantrums
  • wanting to sleep in a cot
  • asking to be spoon-fed after months of being proud to feed themselves
  • crawling, demanding to be carried, or trying to sit on your lap, especially if the baby is already there.
What to do
  • Give the toddler pride in his status as a capable, growing child. Accept babyish ways but strongly reinforce more mature behaviour when it occurs.
  • Don't compare with the baby. Don't try to build the confidence of the older child by diminishing the younger one. It's not necessary and sets a bad precedent.
  • Praise your toddler without referring to the baby at all.

Going social

You might be eager to take your toddler out to parties, shows like Santa or the Easter bunny at the shopping centre. But you might be more excited about the outing than your toddler and your toddler might find it very scary and upsetting.

How to handle outings

  1. Talk to your toddler about where you are planning to go.
  2. Tell him what he will see and do there.
  3. Show your toddler pictures of the characters he will be seeing.
  4. Before a family party, show him photographs and tell him about the relatives he may see.
  5. Before rushing into a gathering, observe the situation with your toddler from a safe distance.
  6. Let him watch other children meeting Santa or other TV characters and give him reassurance by hugs and words.
  7. Don’t force your little one to get close to unfamiliar or scary people or characters, even if it’s auntie Violet.
  8. Let him take his time getting acquainted, and don’t pressure him to participate.

Tantrum time

  • It is pointless to try to talk your toddler out of it. The attention tends to make the tantrum last longer.
  • The same goes for asking him what is wrong or what happened or what he wants - in a fury, your toddler won't know and can't say, so leave it.
  • Steer away from rational explanations as to why you can't do whatever is being demanded.
  • Find a distraction.
  • Try to keep a cool head – and not to shout, smack or shake your toddler. You know it’s not going to be a pretty sight.
  • If you are at home, walk away and do something else but never leave your child unattended.
  • If you are at the shops or at a friend’s home, be firm and remove the child to a more private area. Ignore other people and don't feel embarrassed.
  • Give sweets as a bribe to behave at your peril – child brain says: tantrum equals sweets.
  • It's better not to put your child to bed. If the cot (or bed) is associated with punishment, it can lead to problems at bedtime.

What are the most challenging times with your toddler? Do you have any good strategies?

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