Perhaps you’ve been there: Your son picks his nose in the middle of the grocery store or sticks his hands down his pants at church. You are horrified and wonder where in the world these habits came from because you sure didn’t teach them. Rest assured, both of these actions are a normal part of toddler development. You’ll see quite a few unusual or frustrating behaviors as your toddler explores himself and the world around him.
Does your daughter frequently go digging for gold? You’re not alone if you have a habitual nose picker. She might pick her nose because she’s curious, bored or because it feels like something is up there. She might want to continue picking it after the excitement of finding “something.” If you have a nose picker, your best approach is to redirect your daughter and wash her hands. If you can figure out a specific time she is more likely to pick her nose, watching TV or on a long car trip for example, give her something else to do with her hands. If your daughter ever sticks something up her nose, ear or other bodily crevice, take her to the doctor immediately. Don’t try to remove it yourself.
Your toddler’s exploration might include more than just his nose. Genital exploration is a normal stage of development for toddlers. So, don’t be shocked if he puts his hands down his pants to explore. If this happens in public, try to redirect him. If it happens at home, just ignore the action. As your toddler gets older, around 3 or 4, you may want to explain to him that that is a private part and he can touch it in private areas. At that age, you should also explain “good touch, bad touch” and who is allowed to touch private parts.
Does your daughter prefer to run around freely without clothes? This is also a normal toddler behavior. One reason she might like to run around naked is the satisfaction of taking her clothes off. Undoing snaps, buttons and zippers give her quite a sense of accomplishment. Calmly tell her that she is taking her clothes off, but remind her that she doesn’t do that at places like the grocery story, church or a friend’s house. You can put on clothes that are more difficult to remove such as overalls or one-piece outfits.
You’ve probably seen a fair share of tantrums from your son. Not to worry, you’re not a failure as a parent, temper tantrums are also a normal toddler behavior. Toddlers use the right side of their brain, which is impulsive, emotional and nonverbal. He is experiencing strong feelings, but doesn’t have enough words to communicate those feelings yet. Avoid taking your son anywhere when he is tired or hungry, two factors that are likely to contribute to a tantrum. If he does have a tantrum, keep calm and ignore it. After a few minutes, if it hasn’t subsided, try redirecting him.