Destructive Toddler Habits

Written by Christy Whitman July 29, 2012

What should parents watch for and how can they nip the bad habits in the bud before their toddler starts socializing?

It is important to know that not all children do the same things or the same behavior. There are also many reasons that toddlers do the behaviors that they do. Being destructive is a very normal behavior for children. Creating or building something is fun, but destroying is even more fun. This is a natural instinct for children. Instead of trying to fight it or avoid it, go with it.

For example, if your child rips up books because she likes the sound that paper makes when it tears, give her books that you don’t mind that she destroys. Keep the special books on a shelf that she can’t access. Purchase coloring books and allow her to tear those pages.

Children need to be made aware of what are the rules and boundaries in the house. Tell your child, “You may color on paper only. Furniture, walls, carpet, floors, etc. are not okay.” Get eye level with your child and tell her what you want her to do: “Cindy does not bite or slap. Cindy is loving and gentle.”

If the boundaries are broken, there needs to be consequences. “If you continue to slap your brother, you will not be able to watch Bugs Bunny tonight.” Make sure to follow through with whatever was presented as the consequence. It is one of the hardest parts of being a parent, but if you want to teach them how the world works with cause and effect,  your follow through is essential.

Destructive behaviors like hitting, biting, scratching could also be an indication that the child is feeling negative emotions and are not capable of communicating their feelings. They don’t have the language to communicate what they are feeling and they act out aggressively. It is important to start talking with your children at a young age about what is appropriate, and their feelings. You can start to talk to your child about feelings of anger, sadness, or frustration. Tell your child to imagine their emotions being put into a bubble and letting it float away. This will naturally return them back to their joy.

Always pay attention to the environment in the house. If there is a lot of tension and stress this can affect the child dramatically. Children are mostly energy from 0-8 and are very sensitive to the environment in the house. If your child continues to act aggressively when the boundaries have been placed, you may want to check to see how you are feeling as a parent. Your children reflect your own energy. If you are happy, they are happy. If you are angry, they are angry.

The Enlightened Kid Program helps both children and parents return back to place of feeling good with the positive affirmations and meditations for parents. Implementing this program will change the environment for the better and affect the child in a positive way.

Remember to stay calm. React minimally, and simply say, “We don’t hit. Hitting hurts mommy.” Then either redirect your toddler’s attention or swiftly remove her from the situation. A calm response is always better than one that is out of reaction. Know that you will need to repeat yourself, but do it in a creative way not to say the same tone and words each and every time.  Remember that it’s absolutely normal for toddlers to hit, kick, and bite, but it’s necessary for parents to consistently teach them it’s not okay.

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