Menu

Calm cooperation: How to respond when your toddler challenges you

Shift the ‘bad’ behavior into silly behavior.

Calm cooperation: How to respond when your toddler challenges you

Most toddlers go through periods where they’re trying out new behaviors. They are both testing your reaction and learning about the world around them. Our instinct as parents is to tell them “no” and to stop the behavior immediately, either because we think it’s wrong or other people think it’s wrong and we’re embarrassed in public.


The more you tell a kid that their behavior is wrong, the more they want to do it. After all, they’re getting a reaction from you.

To change the behavior, connect with your child and shift the ‘bad’ behavior into a fun and silly behavior.

1. Screaming

If your child likes to scream loudly and this is bothersome to you because you’re in a public place or because it simply hurts your ears, teach your child to scream with no sound. Together, open your mouths really wide as if you are screaming, but teach him or her to be silent. Silent screams are silly to kids and you can do this together.

FEATURED VIDEO

2. Hitting parents or siblings

If your child goes through a hitting phase as many kids do, you can suggest that instead of hitting, your child tickles you in the chin. And when they do, you let out a huge laugh! Toddlers will find this hilarious and it is a redirection from hitting and a way for you to connect instead of reprimanding them.

3. Not listening

If your child isn’t listening to something you’re asking him or her, don’t yell to get their attention or grab whatever is occupying them. Instead, say something silly like, “Are your ears clogged? Are there cotton balls in your ears?” and go check in their ears.

4. Siblings fighting

It’s inevitable that siblings will fight with each other, but that doesn’t mean you have to pull out the mean mom act every time. Sometimes kids deserve a chance to stop, rewind and re-do.

Have a discussion about what other choices can be made. Allow your kids to try again and make different decisions. It’s important to teach kids that people make mistakes and you can apologize and make a new decision. Maybe next time they’ll think about the behavior in advance and hold back from doing it.

5. Throwing

Babies and toddlers love to throw. They are thrilled by watching items go up and then down or fly across the room. The trouble starts when the thrown item is food, which ends up staining your floor, or something heavy or sharp, which can be dangerous. Set aside time to throw together. Throw pillows on the floor or throw pretend food into baskets.

6. Tantrums

If your child asks for something and is denied, it’s likely that tears, whining and tantrums will follow. Before this tornado of emotions happens, use rhymes or silly nonsensical statements to grab your child’s attention and engage them in something silly. Redirect your child away from what he or she was upset about by using a mixture of language development and silliness.

7. Impatience

Whenever my child appears to be lacking patience, I start singing. If you’re waiting in line at a store and the whining starts, get your kid to sing a song with you. If you’re feeding your baby and your toddler wants some attention, start singing a song he knows and loves. Singing is soothing for both child and parent and puts everyone in a better mood.

8. The morning struggle

Getting ready and off to school in the morning is a battle for most parents. The key to getting your child out the door is to make it fun. Make it a race between siblings or challenge your kid that he can’t get his shoes on and tied before you are done singing the alphabet.

9. The dreaded “Why, why, why?”

Once your kid gets to the age where every statement of yours is followed by, “why?” you’ll wish you never knew the word. You can keep answering the question, but your kid will most likely keep saying, “why.”

Instead, say “I wonder…” Ask your child what they think and give them the confidence to come up with an answer. Regardless of whether their answer is right or wrong, it will begin a conversation between the two of you.



Join Motherly

In This Article

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

    WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

    Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    [Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country. This essay reflects the views of one mother—we invite you to also read As a mother, I'm voting for Joe Biden.]

    Confession #1: I didn't vote for Trump the first time.

    Confession #2: I'm old enough to remember what our country went through during the sexual scandal of President Clinton. So in 2016, in the spirit of not repeating history (coupled with a multitude of other reasons why I was not a Hilary fan), I couldn't vote for Clinton. But, it also didn't seem right to vote for a self-proclaimed "p***y-grabbing" Tweet-assailer. I was told he was the epitome of all that is evil in the world and would be the reason for the premature ending of the world. Ultimately, I voted Independent.

    FEATURED VIDEO

    But the 2016 election nevertheless served as a significant turning point for me as it was for many others. I felt the need to dig deeper.

    Let's back up. Had I read the 2016 Republican Platform before casting my ballot? Sadly, no. But as Maya Angelou wrote—and as I now regularly tell my kids—"When you know better you do better." So this year, I decided I would do better; to delve into learning what each candidate believes in, why they do and what the best and worst possible outcomes are.

    Have I now read the 2020 platforms of both candidates (Republican and Democrat) this time around? You better believe it.

    Moms want to leave a better world behind for our kids. I do, and I bet you do, too. I believe the Trump-Pence administration will continue to do exactly that. They stand for the parts of American culture that has set America apart from every other country of the world: the American Dream; American exceptionalism; that the Declaration of Independence affirms the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all; that government must be limited in its power; that we as Americans seek friendship with all nations, but we also recognize that evil exists in this world, and we will defend against it; that freedom is an essential ingredient in every area of our lives.

    Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, I hope you'll read this with an open mind. I also hope that the Biden supporters reading this who have somewhere along the line conflated all Republicans to be racist-climate-change-denying-xenophobes, will feel the twinge of some ice melt between our parties, however small.

    I'll go first with an olive branch: The Democrat Party for this election did an impressively thorough job outlining solutions to end homelessness. Will Democratic and Republican mayors and governors take the ball and run? I would love to see that happen. Further, I believe there are countless ideals the Democratic party stands behind that, in theory, sound absolutely amazing: free college and free health care. Played out, I see these things chipping away at other peoples' freedoms, but I agree that in a "perfect world" we could both give away things for free and keep our cherished freedom.

    But I digress; back to why I'm voting for our president. In the spirit of four more years, here are four reasons why as a mom, I am voting for Donald Trump.

    Keep reading Show less
    Opinions