Toddlers are infamous for tantrums and other behaviour issues. To encourage listening and cooperation, follow these parenting tips. It appeared at least a couple of times a week, wreaking havoc on our household but invisible to the naked eye. It still appears occasionally, taking up residence in my nine-year-old daughter’s body when she wakes up late on the weekends or at the end of a long day and making itself known through crabby tones, irritability and looks that could kill. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.
Ever since our oldest was a toddler, we saw the drastic change in her mood at the drop of a hat, and it took us far too long to catch on to the sneaky culprit. Being a good parent can be difficult. We are never really taught how to raise children effectively and generally repeat behaviours we have learned from our parents. If we grew up in a dysfunctional environment, we could replicate the same mistakes we witnessed and experienced as children when our turn to become parents comes around. Many parents who come to see me ask how they can learn better parenting skills. They often feel ineffectual when disciplining their children but do not know what they can do differently. The following are some practical tools to use to bring about a little more order in your household:
The Not So Surprising Way to Improve Child Behavior and Mood
It turns out there are dozens of practical ways to improve a child’s behaviour and mood every day, many of them so seemingly simple that we forget to be intentional about them with our kids. If you’re like me, you’ve heard the term’ integrative medicine’ before but never fully understood what it was. Life can be frustrating for toddlers. Though eager to be independent, young children can’t always move as swiftly as they’d like or clearly express their needs. They also tend to have trouble dealing with limits, compromise and disappointment. This can lead to tantrums and misbehaviour. But you can teach your toddler to behave well by providing love, clear rules and a degree of routine. Consider these practical parenting tips.
Your Child’s Mental Health Is More Important Than Academics Right Now
Integrative health approaches focus on the whole body, taking into account multiple fields of medicine and nutritional sciences. It combines many different techniques and wraps them together into the best possible package for an individual patient. It also turns out there are many integrative approaches for mental health that will benefit a child’s emotional and behavioural health.
It was eye-opening to learn some basic principles of integrative medicine and how seemingly essential interventions, when done consistently, can make a world of difference in improving child behaviour, child listening, mood, and overall emotional health.
Show Your Love
Make sure your displays of affection for your child outnumber any consequences or punishments. Hugs, kisses and good-natured roughhousing reassure your child of your love. Praise and attention also can motivate your toddler to follow the rules.
Rather than overloading your child with rules from the outset — which might frustrate him or her — prioritise those geared toward safety first and gradually add rules over time. Help your toddler follow the rules by childproofing your home and eliminating some temptations.
It’s normal for a toddler to have temper tantrums. To reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your child’s tantrums:
- Know your child’s limits. Your child might misbehave because he or she doesn’t understand or can’t do what you’re asking.
- Explain how to follow the rules. Instead of saying, “Stop hitting,” offer suggestions for how to make play go more smoothly, such as “Why don’t you two take turns?”
- Take ‘no’ in stride. Don’t overreact when your toddler says no. Instead, calmly repeat your request. You might also try to distract your child or make a game out of good behaviour. Your child will be more likely to do what you want if you make an activity fun.
- Pick your battles. If you say no to everything, your child is expected to get frustrated. Look for times when it’s OK to say yes.
- Offer choices, when possible. Please encourage your child’s independence by letting him or her pick out a pair of pyjamas or a bedtime story.
- Avoid situations that might trigger frustration or tantrums. For example, please don’t give your child toys that are too advanced for him or her. Avoid long outings in which your child has to sit still or can’t play — or bring an activity. Also, know that children are more likely to act out when they’re tired, hungry, sick or in an unfamiliar setting.
- Stick to the schedule. Keep a daily routine so that your child will know what to expect.
- Encourage communication. Please remind your child to use words to express his or her feelings. If your child isn’t speaking yet, consider teaching him or her baby sign language to avoid frustration.
Despite your best efforts, your toddler will break the rules. Ignore minor displays of anger, such as crying — but if your child hits, kicks or screams for a prolonged period, remove him or her from the situation. To encourage your child to cooperate, consider using these methods:
- Natural consequences. Let your child see the results of his or her actions — as long as they’re not dangerous. If your child throws and breaks a toy, he or she won’t have the toy to play with anymore.
- Logical consequences. Create a result for your child’s actions. Tell your child if he or she doesn’t pick up his or her toys, you will take the toys away for a day. Help your child with the task, if necessary. If your child doesn’t cooperate, follow through with the consequence.
- Withholding privileges. If your child doesn’t behave, respond by taking away something that your child values — such as a favourite toy — or something related to his or her misbehaviour. Don’t take away something your child needs, such as a meal.
- Timeouts. When your child acts out, get down to his or her level and calmly explain why the behaviour is unacceptable. Encourage a more appropriate activity. If the poor behaviour continues, guide your child to a designated timeout spot — ideally a quiet place with no distractions. Enforce the timeout until your child is calm and can listen to you. Afterwards, reassure your child of your love and guide him or her to a positive activity.
- Whatever consequences you choose, be consistent. Make sure that every adult who cares for your child observes the same rules and discipline guidelines. This reduces your child’s confusion and needs to test you.
Ways to Improve Child Behavior and Moods With Integrative Health.
Praise Your Children
Any time you catch your child being good, make sure you let him or her know how appreciative you are of his or her good behaviour. Everyone responds in positive ways to praise, children included, so this will encourage your child to behave in desirable ways.
Use Behavioral Incentives
To inspire your kids to do their chores, put a chart or calendar up on the wall listing, day by day, the tasks you want them to complete. This could include taking out the trash or setting the table for dinner, but you can also have behaviours such as doing their homework, brushing their teeth, or being nice to siblings.
When the child performs the desired behaviours, he or she gets to put a sticker on the chart for the day. As your child accumulates a certain number of stickers, he or she can earn special incentives that are known ahead of time. These could be anything from choosing a favourite dinner, going on a special outing, watching a movie that your child has been looking forward to, or anything else he or she would enjoy.
For very young children, it can be helpful to break down the day into shorter periods to reward desired behaviours more quickly. You may want to have them earn three stickers a day, for example—for the morning, afternoon, and evening. Even if they are not successful for the entire day, they can be rewarded for shorter periods and will gradually earn more and more stickers and rewards.
Use Consistent Discipline Techniques
When your children misbehave, they need to understand the specific behaviours you do not want them to do. Let them know what they are doing wrong, then provide a warning. Your explanations should be evident and straightforward so that they understand exactly which were the problem behaviours.
When your children misbehave, they need to understand the specific behaviours you do not want them to do.
If a child continues to misbehave, put him or her in a designated area away from the rest of the family that has been chosen for timeouts. Make sure that the child remains in the designated spot for the entire timeout period. The timeout should not last more than several minutes, but the child should not be allowed to talk or play during this time.
At the end of the timeout period, reiterate to your child why he or she was put in timeout and ask for an apology. Consistency is essential for teaching children appropriate behaviour, so the timeout strategy should be used every time your child misbehaves after being given an initial, unheeded warning. Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.
Communicate With Your Child
If your child is acting uncharacteristically poorly, attempt to find out what may be going on. Children tend to act out when they are being picked on at school or sense tension within the family. Try talking with them to find out if they are upset about something you are unaware of so you can address any potential problems.
Maintain a Structured Routine
Children respond well to structure, so try to have meals and bedtime at the same time every day. When kids become overly tired, they may be more prone to acting out, so make sure they are getting enough rest. Using the techniques above can help to make for a more peaceful home environment. If you are still having problems managing your child’s behaviour or your child has recently become more fearful, angry, or aggressive, meeting with a psychotherapist may be helpful to explore the underlying reasons for the behaviours and get your child back on track.
After learning the massive effects hydration has on not only our bodies but our brains, we try our best each day to consume 8 ounces of water together both before and after school. Dehydration has been shown to decrease focus/cognition and cause fatigue which affects mood and performance. Children are more at risk of dehydration as they are dependent upon others for the provision of fluids and are more active.
Rested Kids Are Happy Kids
You’ve likely heard the term circadian rhythm but never realised just how important it is to your child’s mental and emotional functioning. Circadian rhythm (our body’s 24-hour biological sleep-wake cycle) is integral to mental health as it dramatically affects the hormone cortisol, which underlies mood, sleep stress, pain and depression.
When children don’t get enough sleep or have their sleep disrupted, this affects both neurotransmitters and hormones, posing to impair thinking and emotional regulation skills and underlying many child behaviour problems.
Studies show that being in nature can help a child regulate emotionally and positively impact mood, cognition, working memory and anxiety through decreased neural activity in the area of the brain responsible for anxious thoughts.
It was found that nature programs (for children living in urban environments) resulted in an increase in mastery (improved self-efficacy and coping skills) and relatedness (more comfortable interacting with others) and a decrease in emotional reactivity (ability to manage emotions when upset).
If we want to take a big step in improving child behaviour problems, it’s time to give up some screen time for some ‘green time’ each day.
Pump Those Proteins
Not only did we discover the secret to improving our daughters morning meltdowns was eating more frequently to keep her blood glucose levels consistent, but we also realised she would struggle significantly with her emotions and impulses when she didn’t get enough protein in her diet.
Brain cells communicate via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are made of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Essentially all hormones and enzymes that cause chemical changes and control all body processes are made of proteins.
Being intentional about incorporating healthy proteins into your child’s meals each day will go far to improve both their mood and behaviour.
Kids! Time to head upstairs to put on pyjamas, brush your teeth and do your mindfulness! Clinicians and practitioners who tapped into the research on mindfulness are convinced that when science catches up to culture (usually a 10-20 year lag), doctors will prescribe mindfulness daily as health maintenance for our brains.
Practising kids mindfulness activities with your child exercises the ‘brain muscles’ responsible for self-control, calming skills, and focus. Sounds like a pretty good deal, no?
Yoga Pants Aren’t Just for Moms.
If you can control the breath, you control the mind. Yoga incorporates stretching, resistance training, and balance (which improve mental clarity, stability, and flexibility) and allows a child to regulate their breathing.
In a fast-paced life, it’s common for our breathing to become too fast or too slow, causing physiological stress and anxiety. Children’s yoga exercises are fun for kids and allow them to practice controlling and regulating their emotional state through their breath.
Discover the Rainbow Diet
You are what you eat. Increasing the consumption of natural foods with quality nutrients can go a long way in improving your child’s ability to pay attention, feel calm and manage emotions and behaviour.
Here are the principles referred to as the ‘rainbow diet’, which includes:
- reducing artificial sugars and regular sugar, which can alter mood
- plenty of coloured foods giving your child the whole range of vitamins and nutrients
- both raw and cooked foods
- observing what foods make your child feel yucky/crabby/moody as well as the ones that make them feel good
Use Nature’s Perfume
I’ve known for years that when I smell lavender, my shoulders relax, and the scent of lemon feels like a ‘battery jump’ to my brain, and now I know why!
It turns out the brain areas responsible for smell (olfactory processing) overlap with those responsible for emotion and memory, and the chemical messengers in the nasal cavity have direct access to our brain’s emotional centre. Primarily through the long months of winter, essential oils are such a fantastic mood lifter and a fantastic way to help your child relax for bedtime for focus during homework.
PE Is Not Enough
Research indicates cardiovascular health plays a significant role in mental health by boosting neurochemical reactions that balance mood and energy. The key is engaging in an aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping.
Explore different types of aerobic exercise with your child and make room for this in your weekly routine. When my daughter gets finished with soccer practice, I notice a drastic change in her mood (often for the remainder of the evening!).
Kick Dyes and Processed Foods to the Curb
Research with a group of three-year-olds found they were more likely to lack concentration, lose their temper, interrupt others and struggle to get to sleep when they drank fruit juice dosed with colourings and preservatives.
There’s a reason the standard American Diet is referred to as the SAD Diet. Overconsumption of refined, overly processed foods loaded with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and synthetic preservatives are known to alter the biological processes that underlie mood and behaviour (aka inflammation and neurotransmitter imbalance). I know this one is hard as processed food is at all the places, is much cheaper and more convenient for busy parents, but trying your best where and when you can, will pay off greatly.
Improving Child Behaviors and Moods Starts With Small Changes
Now when the beast visits, we know what to do- I give her the universal ‘, uh-oh this seems like the beast, and not my kind daughter” look, and we make a beeline straight for the kitchen. Small changes over time in your child’s daily habits will translate to better behaviour in the present and lead to healthy life habits that have a big payoff on emotional health in the future. Also, criticise your child’s behaviour — not your child. Instead of saying, “You’re a bad boy,” try, “Don’t run into the street.” Never resort to punishments that emotionally or physically harm your child. Spanking, slapping and screaming at a child is never appropriate. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.
Set a Good Example
Children learn how to act by watching their parents. The best way to show your child how to behave is to set a positive example for him or her to follow.