Here are some behavioural issues that you may have to deal with. MH tells you how.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
Aggression be it physical or verbal, is fairly common in children between the ages of two and four. “There are many reasons why a typical toddler may act aggressively. At times, the tot may not be able to verbalise his needs effectively and is thus misunderstood or ignored. Other times, he may not be able to yet handle the flurry of emotions that come on a day to day basis. Remember, your tot has not been alive for that long and therefore can feel overwhelmed by new experiences and people at times. Finally, sometimes, what looks like aggression is actually anxiety turned outward. Some toddlers are unable to explain that they are nervous, shy or scared and therefore act out to protect themselves,” says Dr Vanessa von Auer, clinical psychologist at VA Psychology Center.
Daniel Koh, psychologist at Insights Mind Center agrees and adds that parents should not use violence on the child as it reinforces that it is okay to use it. Instead, review what is happening at home or in your child’s environment that may be causing such behaviour.
While your child is having an aggressive episode, remain calm to show
your child that his or her behaviour is not affecting you.
If your child is prone to throwing things, Koh says the first step is to find out why it is happening. Is your child frustrated with his inability to express himself? Have you been unavailable to him when he is afraid or is he feeling threatened? “Teach your child how to handle emotional distress or frustrations in a positive manner, such as by coming to talk to you or by giving them a soft ball to squeeze”, says Koh.
Teaching the child words to name and identify his feelings may help him to feel less distressed. Also, be clear and firm in instilling both boundaries and consequences, and always follow through.
Understanding Temper Tantrums
Temper tantrums and meltdowns are quite normal in toddlers and young children. There is a correct way of dealing with them to minimise how often they happen. According to Dr von Auer, the reaction you have to your child’s meltdowns in both public and private places should be consistent.
You must be brave and never give in to such behaviour lest
your child learns that throwing a fit is an effective way to get what he
wants – never reward the behaviour, no matter the circumstance.
Koh adds that you should first remove your child from any attention till he calms down. Take him into a quiet room, alley, stairway or into your car when outside. Give your child firm choices – “Either you calm down, or we will go home”, and follow through. If your presence or talking to the child makes him worse, walk away and watch him from a distance until he stops. Once your child sees that their behaviour does not have the effect that they wanted but has consequences, he will learn from the experience. Always revisit the outburst later when your child has calmed down and is prepared to talk quietly, calmly and rationally.
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