Parenting dilemmas: the toddler edition

Having a toddler or two in your life is already a handful, but if there are behavioral problems as well, then it can be downright exhausting.

By Angela Chavez




Having a toddler or two in your life is already a handful, but if there are behavioral problems as well, then it can be downright exhausting. The good news is, you are not alone.

These can be issues at bedtime, temper tantrums, hitting, food concerns, and so much more. These dilemmas can stem from your toddler needing attention, jealousy, illness, or changes in their routine.

Very often, toddlers are experiencing frustration. A lot changes for them once they become more independent. They are learning new things all the time and can get stressed when they can not process something or express themselves clearly.

Common Toddler Dilemmas

Obviously, some problems are going to be bigger than others. Some may crop up at certain times, others may only occur a few times and then disappear. Toddlers learn by example, so solving these issues starts with you.

Picky Eaters

Parents often worry about their children’s eating habits. If your child is a fussy eater, it’s natural to worry if they are getting enough to eat. But, as long as they are eating even a little bit from the main food groups, and gaining weight they should be fine.

If they seem lethargic and underweight, then you should consult your medical professional. This could be an indication that there is something more serious than just being fussy.

Getting Your Toddler To Eat

It’s important to not make a big deal about your toddler’s eating habits. Don’t get upset or demand they eat something. Their taste buds are very sensitive and many foods can be overpowering.

  • Give your toddler the same food that everyone else is eating. Eat with your toddler to make it a routine and encourage them to eat. They will follow your lead.
  • Don’t make it spicy or add too many seasonings.
  • Give them smaller portions and praise them when they eat. Don’t get upset if they don’t eat a particular food, as they likely don’t like it.
  • Take the food away if they don’t eat it and try it again after a few weeks.
  • Let them try all kinds of different foods, and when you know what they do like, add it to other dishes and foods they may not.

Bedtime Struggles

Having a toddler fight their bedtime is extremely common. There is so much going on that they are afraid they will miss something. It’s quite common for them to want to stay up.

This is particularly common when there are older children in the home, as they are aware that the older kids get to stay up longer. Even without other children, they can hear the parents who are allowed to stay up longer.

There is a chance the child isn’t tired, especially if they had a nap during the day. They could be over-excited, over-tired, or stressed. It could be they just want to stay and play.

Tips for Bedtime

It’s important to make your toddler’s bedtime something to look forward to. Depending on their age, you can allow them to have some say about the routine that they go through.

  • Cut down on screen time at least half an hour before their bedtime.
  • A warm bath before bed is very calming and soothing. It also gives your child some one-on-one time with a parent alone.
  • Have a nice chat with your toddler in the tub and play with them, don’t make it all about washing.
  • Give them toys to play with and bubbles. Keep the lights low and gently wash them.
  • Let them choose a story and a toy to sleep with and read to them in a calm, soothing voice.
  • Have a small nightlight on to make them feel safe and tuck them in after the story. It will all become quite natural and part of the routine.

Aggression and Tantrums

Another common issue with toddlers is aggression and lashing out. Screaming, crying, hitting, temper tantrums, and more are bound to happen. It’s often down to their frustration due to the lack of communication skills.

Temper tantrums in public places or hitting you or other children is quite common with toddlers. They can’t express themselves and lash out simply out of frustration.

Taking Care of Tantrums

You already know how frustrating it can be to have your child screaming in the grocery store or playground. It often is because they are not getting what they want.

  1. The first step is not to get upset or angry. This is not easy but getting mad often just makes the situation escalate. Plus, if you get angry, then you are showing your child that this behavior is okay.
  2. If your child is hitting or trying to hit, firmly but gently hold their arms. Talk to them in a soothing voice as you don’t want them to be scared or feel under attack.
  3. Take the child out of the situation. If you have to pick them up and carry them out of the park or the grocery store, then do so. Stay calm and speak soothingly to them.
  4. This will help them calm down as they are no longer around the situation that was causing them distress. They also are not being chastised in front of other people or other toddlers, which can be horribly embarrassing.
  5. Once alone, encourage your child to tell you what went wrong. Let them talk about what happened the best they can. At the same time, be on their side but let them know their behavior is not acceptable.

Toddler-Parent Dilemmas

Once a child starts to walk and form words, everything and everyone is something to explore. Reward your toddler for good behavior and stay as calm as you can during the problem times.

Toddlers are going to act up, whether it’s at bedtime, not wanting to eat vegetables, or fighting with a friend. How you react to them during good and bad behavior episodes will determine how they act the next time the situation arises.

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