5 Behaviour problems in toddlers and how to address them

Children Behaving Badly_03_modAs children grow, they developed little bouts of personality, some can be angels, but beneath the sweet innocent faces and cheery smiles always hide the fact that children are designed to test the patience and endurance of parents and teachers. There is a common belief that boys tend to misbehave (badly) all the times compared to girls. However, as a former preschool teacher and mother of one, let me be clear when it comes to misbehaving, girls can behave badly too, and they displayed atypical behaviours, not unique to the boys. These include tantrums, fighting with other children, screaming, throwing objects or biting their classmates.

Here are 5 common misbehaviour and how, as a parent can address them.

Children behaving badly



Excessive Crying

Unless your toddler has hurt himself / herself physically, do not let the toddler gain leverage by giving in to unreasonable demands.


Tips for Moms
Let the toddler know that if he/she wants something, the toddler must stop crying first, and communicate in words. There can be no exceptions to this case.



  • Control your own emotion. Do not let stress and frustration overwhelm you as the parent.
  • If your toddler refuses to talk, use hand gestures to rule out medical related issues.
  • Make sure every caretaker and family member agree to this, there can be no exceptions, even from doting grandparents.
  • Punish when required, if your toddler refuses to comply. Let the child knows that rules set by parents are ultimate.


Children Behaving Badly_06Interrupting when adults are talking

Imagine you are working from home and in the middle of a very important conference call with your bosses and your 3 year old toddler comes barging through the door and yelling about the bird that just flew onto the balcony.


Tips for Moms
Teach your toddler to control his/her emotions and learn to be considerate of others especially when the adults are talking or doing work.  The next time before you make a call, tell your toddler that he/she needs to be quiet and not interrupt you. If your toddler continues to tugs on your arm while you are talking, then point to a chair and tell him/her to hush and quietly sit there until you’re finished.





Playing it rough

If your toddler is currently attending childcare or has a sibling or cousin, squabbles and bouts between young children are not uncommon. Subtle aggressive acts such as a shove, pinch or slap can lead to an entrenched habit if it is not addressed right from the start.


Tips for Moms
Confront aggressive behavior on the spot. Pull your toddler aside and tell him/her that using force or violence can result in hurt on others and it is not acceptable. Find out the reasons for the toddler’s quarrel and address it on the spot. Encourage the toddler to inform an adult if he/she is a victim of physical abuse.


Children Behaving Badly_04
Selective hearing

Does your toddler chooses to ignore you, when it comes to instructions or orders, or do you have to repeatedly tell your toddler the same instructions over and over again? This behavior, overtime sends a message to the child that it’s ‘OK’ to ignore the parents. If left uncheck, your toddler is likely to become defiant and controlling.


Tips for Moms
Walk over to your toddler and tell him / her exactly what needs to be done (once). Look at the toddler face to face when you are talking and get a verbal acknowledgement from the toddler. Remove all background distractions, such as television, tablet or book so that the toddler focuses his/her attention only on you. If the toddler does not react, impose a consequence.


  • Remove the toddler’s entitlement to TV or Tablet for the day as punishment.
  • Curtail the toddler’s visitation rights to the playground.
  • Cold storage the toddler’s favourite toy for a few hours.


unhappy smileyTelling lies

Lying can become automatic if your toddler learns that it’s an easy way to avoid doing something that he/she doesn’t want to do, or to avoid take responsibility for something that goes wrong.


Tips for Moms
Before you embark on a witch hunt, give the benefit of doubt to your child that he / she may not know the difference between telling a straight lie, or ‘forgetting’ to do something. Never reproach a child unless you are absolutely sure about the truth. Most children are brutally honest, but they may get cheeky by ‘pretending’ to hide the truth, and expecting a major reaction from the parents. Look at the toddler’s  motivation for lying, and make sure he/she doesn’t achieve the goal. Use class stories such as ‘The boy who cried wolf’ to instill the proper values in your toddler.