Some troubling toddler behaviors are actually just part of growing up.

Typical Behavior of Toddlers

by Nicole Crawford

Your toddler is throwing yet another tantrum for no obvious reason. At these moments, parents often wonder whether other parents experience the same thing. Usually, the answer is yes, but sometimes there are solutions to improve your toddler's behavior. It helps to understand what's normal and what's not during those tumultuous toddler years.

1. Ability to Focus

You sit down with your toddler to read her a story, only to get about two pages into the book before she runs off. You might worry that she has an attention disorder, but really it's all part of the age. As noted by Psychology Today, the preschool years are usually the best time for diagnosing attention disorders like ADHD. At the toddler stage, try to train your toddler's attention span by reading to her frequently. Use books with illustrations, and rather than reading narratives, point out objects and teach her names of objects.

2. Defiance

Child psychologist Erik Erikson said that the primary objective during the toddler years is for children to become autonomous. For this reason, defiance is a normal part of toddlerhood. Rather than thinking of toddler defiance as "bad," realize that your toddler's desire to establish herself as independent is an important step in her development. If your toddler is very adventurous and tends to be defiant when you try to help her, the best way to encourage her to develop autonomy is to create a safe, appropriate environment for her.

3. Unpredictability

Perhaps the one predictable characteristic of toddlers is their unpredictability. Some of this is related to physical development. For example, your toddler will go through several growth spurts, which may make sleeping and eating schedules sporadic. You can make your toddler feel secure and stable despite the tremendous changes he is experiencing by having simple rituals on a daily basis, such as reading a book before bed or cleaning his room together before nap time.

4. Preventing Problems

Observing your toddler's behavior is a key aspect of preventing common problems, like tantrums and biting. For example, if you notice your toddler always throws a tantrum at a certain time of day, try putting him down for a nap earlier or feeding him before tantrum time. Most toddler problems boil down to lack of sleep or food. If your toddler's behavior becomes problematic, think of ways to address the problem quickly in order to prevent the behavior from becoming habitual.

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