How to Handle An Energetic Toddler

[Originally posted at Just the Facts, Baby]

Do you have a child who wakes up saying “no” and goes to bed saying “no” and says “no” all day in between? I affectionately call these little ones “gladiators.” Gladiator kids are feisty and full of energy. They tend to be smart, inquisitive–and strong willed.

Gladiator kids can fill up a room with their personalities, but often have trouble settling and knowing when enough is enough. They’re amazing kids, but have to learn to control all the big feelings they have inside. Here’s how to avoid doing battle with your little gladiator.

Stay Neutral: getting angry and upset only fuels the fire, adding to the emotional mix (you won’t be able to do this all the time, but try–it really helps!)

Frontload: in each new situation, help your child understand what you expect and how you can help him make the right choices. Let him know what the consequences (natural) if possible will be ahead if time for negative behaviour.

Adrenaline Play: these kids have energy and running around outside is not enough. They will often tantrum or bug to release energy. Try wrestling and chasing games, or games like hide and seek to get their energy out in a positive way.

Name the Behaviour: give their behaviour a name, like the silly bug or the “no” monster. It can really help so that you can work on the behaviour together.

Be Consistent: Be loving, but firm and consistent. Don’t threaten with consequences you know you won’t follow through on. It is better to pick smaller consequences and stick to them then bigger ones that you take back or forget about.

Praise Them: catch them being good–it’s so important to let your child know you see the positive behaviours too. Children listen to the things we say to them and form a sense of themselves based on what we feed back to them.

Connect Through Play: different from adrenaline play, this should be a wonderful cuddle time where you really make them feel delicious and loved.

Use Empathy: I describe how to use it effectively with the CALM technique in my book. It really works to defuse tantrums, helps them understand their own feelings and increases compliance.

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Please remember that the advice given on this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or the direct advice of a mental health care professional.
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