Toddler Guide – Toddler Behavior, Toddler Discipline, Toddler Health

The toddler years are often very rewarding for the parents as they watch their infant become a small person. Normally health should not be a major concern after the first year. The child’s immunity is fairly well developed by now. However there are some concerns common to most children of this age group –

Aggressive Behaviour

Many toddlers indulge in aggressive behaviour such as hitting or biting. Such behaviour is normally only characteristic of their age and not an indication of their behaviour as an adult. There are many reasons for such behaviour –

  • An increasing drive towards having an independent identity.
  • Frustration at the inability to control and manipulate the environment around him.
  • Lack of empathy – he just does not know that others have feelings or can get hurt.
  • Lack of control over his own impulse to hit out in anger or frustration.
  • Lack of verbal skills make it easier to resort to physical methods of expression.
  • Tiredness, hunger, illness, inadequate attention.
  • Unsettling environment or major changes happening around him.

What can you do?

  • Set clear limits on physical aggression and make it crystal clear that it is non-acceptable and punishable.
  • Don’t lose control. Don’t retaliate or use physical methods of expressing your own anger.
  • Praise good behaviour.
  • Validate your child’s feelings by listening attentively and empathizing.
  • Provide safe opportunities for venting frustration or anger. Help him learn coping skills to minimize frustration
  • Soothe with a book, music, cuddling etc.
  • Recognize and avoid aggression due to tiredness and hunger.
  • Don’t take sides or embarrass your toddler in front of others, especially other children
  • Always supervise play with other children.
  • Encourage verbalizing of disagreements by setting an example and encouraging her to express her feelings (including negative ones) without fear of disapproval

Often parents encourage aggressiveness unknowingly. Whenever a child falls down or gets hurt most parents try to distract the crying child by making him ‘hit’ the ground or chair or whatever caused him to fall. Not only are the parents encouraging aggressiveness they are also teaching the child to hit when hurt. The child also learns to shift the blame from himself to others .

Ear Aches

Ear Ache is one of the most common childhood ailments.

Common symptoms are: –

  • Fever
  • Crankiness
  • Complaints of ear pain
  • Constant rubbing of one side of the jaw near the ear
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Loss of hearing (This is an occasional symptom)
  • Any of the above symptoms proceeded by a cold.
  • Crying during feeding.
    All these symptoms can be symptoms for other illnesses also. An accurate assessment can be made only by examining the eardrum.

To minimize chances of ear infection: –

  • Practice good hygiene to stop the spread of germs that lead to cold’s which in turn cause ear infections.
  • Avoid exposing the child to passive smoking, which may increase a child’s risk of ear infections.
  • Hold the child’s head up a little while feeding to prevent pooled milk from obstructing the Eustachian tubes.

If you suspect an ear infection

  • Call the Paediatrician immediately.
  • Don’t put eardrops or cotton swabs into the ear unless a doctor has specifically recommended it.
  • Don’t give self-medicate
  • Keep your child upright to lessen pressure on the middle ear.

Thumb Sucking
One of the earliest behaviours shown by newborn is thumb sucking. In fact thumb sucking often begins in the womb at 29 weeks plus.

  • Sucking is vital for survival and is a reflexive response to any nipple shaped object brushing the cheek or lips.
  • It is a natural coping mechanism for children.
  • Most babies stop spontaneously by age 4-5.

Most dentists agree that if thumb sucking stops by 5 years of age, there is no real need to be concerned about tooth development.

Thumb sucking may not pose much of a problem if a child is not a vigorous thumb sucker and uses it primarily as a means of self comfort at certain times during the day. Worry however, if

  • the child is older than five
  • sucks intensely and through the night instead of just when going to sleep
  • if there are visible signs of tooth impairment or speech impediment.

Sometimes thumb sucking occurs as regressive behaviour when the toddler becomes insecure. In such cases the habit will probably vanish with the cause. Take extra care to be loving to the child since this is his way of telling you that all is not well with his world.
There are numerous home remedies prescribed for getting rid of this habit but opinions are divided on their efficacy. Sometimes remedies such as tying a bandage on the thumb or putting chilly powder on the thumb, backfire, making the child more insecure. If it is urgent to dissuade the child in a hurry, ask advice of your doctor or our expert. Otherwise keep gently reminding him to stop without turning it into such a big issue that he either rebels or becomes insecure.

Right Hand Vs Left Hand

Handiness is not usually apparent until at least age three and sometimes beyond. In the early stages, it is common for children to appear ambidextrous. Left-hand or right-hand is determined by nature and should not be tampered with. There is nothing in left-handiness for either parent or child to be concerned about, apart from the difficulties of negotiating a world meant for right handed people. Moreover research shows that on an average lefties do better in certain fields such as art, architecture and athletics.

Bed Wetting
This is a very common problem till around 5 years of age. Long after a child has learnt to use the bathroom during the day, he may continue to wet the bed at night. Bedwetting usually occurs more when attempts at toilet training are introduced too early. It may also occur when the child is insecure as a form of regression of attention seeking behaviour.

  • Put a plastic sheet under the bed sheet. This will protect the mattresses.
  • Don’t avoid giving the child water before going to bed. This is not going to solve the problem and may make it worse.
  • Distinguish between keeping the bed dry by physically taking the child to the bathroom every few hours, and helping the child to learn to keep himself dry.
  • Don’t scold him for wetting the bed – he can’t help himself.
  • If the child is wet because of a continuous dribble of urine, there may be a medical problem and a checkup should be done.
  • Don’t let the child begin to worry about wetting the bed or his anxiety may delay achievement of control.
  • Accept that even if the child is normally able to keep dry at night, accidents will occasionally happen.

Related Links

Choosing a Paedeatrician
Seperation anxiety

Temper tantrums
Fussy eater
Toddler fears

Buying shoes

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