THE COURSE

5 reason your toddler isn't naughty

meltdowns tantrums toddler Jan 18, 2022

How we perceive our toddler’s behaviour matters. It impacts the way we see them, the way we hear them and ultimately, the way we make them feel through our response to their behaviour.

So if you’re struggling to respond calmly or continually triggered by your child's behaviour, here are five things to try and remember during those tough moments.

  1. Their brain is still developingChildren are often criticized, scolded or punished for behaviour they haven't developed the ability to control as of yet. Children have a lack of impulse control and an inability to regulate their emotions, these are two important points to remember. It's on us to model both of these during those challenging moments, so if we're triggered and continually reacting negatively when our child displays both of these, we miss an opportunity to teach. 
  2. Lack of stimulationStimulation is a psychological hunger. Naturally, the brain registers under-stimulation as stress. As adults, if we're understimulated then we may pop on some music, take the dog for a walk or do some exercise. Things look a little different for our children, when they seek stimulation it may be seen as noisy, aggressive or even destructive.

  3. Parental stressThis is a tough one, but children pick up on emotional atmospheres. There's no question that parenting is one of the most stressful jobs there is, but the fact is, the more stressed we are, the more likely our child is to behave in a challenging way. The right prefrontal part of a child's brain can pick up on a parents emotion instantly. Therefore if we're continually tense or stressed, our child is more likely to "act out" in order to discharge the emotion they're picking up on. 

  4. RAGE and FEAR brain systemsResearch has shown that if a parent continuously yells at their child and issues endless commands such as, “Do this! Do that! Stop that! Get out! Go away!”, then they’re unknowingly activating the RAGE and FEAR systems in a child’s (mammalian part of the) brain. By contrast, a parent is able to trigger the release of a child’s calming opioids through lots of play, laughter and cuddling, this will in turn activate the PLAY and CALM systems in the child’s brain.

  5. No structureWithout structure, we would have a breakdown in civilization, it’s the same with children. Without structure both adults and children can lose focus and meaning, adults are better able to deal without structure whereas children can struggle and often become trying. If we're able to cultivate a consistent and reliable structure in our child's life, then we're creating an environment that will allow them to feel safe, secure and ultimately thrives.

If you're finding the toddler stage challenging, I have a couple of FREE resources that can help:

 

Parenting without punishment

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