First 5 LA Ask a Parent Coach: Behavioral Issues
Have questions about behavioral issues with your child? Ask First 5 LA's Parent Coach!
Encouraging positive changes in behavior in age-appropriate ways can help children become mindful and build good habits that will help them succeed in school and life.
Behavioral issues are not uncommon—but can test any parent’s patience!
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Ask a Parent Coach: Behavioral Issues
Thank you for asking a First 5 LA Parent Coach! Check out other questions and answers below, and we'll email you to let you know when we post an answer to your question.
Q. My 20-month-old just bit another child. How do I teach her to stop?!
A. First, know you’re not alone: A lot of toddlers bite, to their parents’ horror. At this age, many children aren’t able to express a need or strong feeling (can you say “frustration”?) or feel overwhelmed by another child’s behavior. When it looks like your child might be getting ready to chomp, suggest alternative behavior: “If you move your truck away from Juan, he can’t throw sand on it.” “Tell Sarah you don’t like her touching your head.” Distracting your child with another activity can break the tension of the moment: “Let’s check out the swings!” If you child does bite, firmly and calmly repeat, “No biting—it hurts.”
Q. Now that my son has turned 2, he has become, well, a little difficult. While he was once easygoing, he suddenly objects to things he used to like, and his new favorite word is “no.” What is going on, and what can I do about it?!
A. In the first three years, your child’s growth is extraordinary. By 2, their thoughts and feelings may be quite complex — but a child’s language skills and vocabulary aren’t yet sophisticated enough to effectively express those complexities. 2-year-olds may feel frustrated by their inability to communicate or manage their own environment, and that is why “no” becomes a favorite.
- Give choices, not commands. Instead of telling a child exactly what to do, give them a choice that they can’t answer with a “no.” Ask, “Do you want to put away your toys or help me fold up your clothes?”
- Reduce your own use of the word. Instead of saying “no,” be specific. If your natural instinct is to say, “No running near the computer,” maybe say, “Let’s play in your room, because the computer is delicate.”
- Give them a reason. Offer a reasonable explanation of consequences. Saying, “Let’s not play in the mud, because if we do the car gets dirty” can be more effective than “Don’t play in the mud!”