Q 1: My toddler’s behaviour is very hyper. I have tried to talk to him and make him understand this, but he just doesn’t seem to understand. How can I change his behaviour?
Answer: As a parent, it might get unnerving for you to cope with the constant bouts of energy that your little one possesses and displays behaviour that is not quite appropriate. However, remember that you child is just learning to speak and has limited vocabulary. Therefore, trying to explain things would just not come across to him easily. Understanding things in terms of ‘cause and effect’ is not possible for your child, so try to use fewer words but maintain eye contact. However, this will still not guarantee that he will adhere to what you say, as children at this age are egocentric. Try to use non-verbal ways of communicating your displeasure through facial expression, voice modulation and body language. Kneel down to remove the intimidating difference in height and talk to him in a soothing tone. Children are very receptive to touch and facial expressions and a simple smile with a rub on the back are enough to make them feel comfortable and get listening.
Q 2: My toddler hates to hear a “no” from me. The minute I object to him touching or doing something with a “no” she starts crying and rolling on the floor in protest. Help me please.
Answer: The best thing to do here is to distract your toddler. Distracting by making a noise or engaging her in another activity can be a great way of preventing a temper tantrum. Also, try to say things with a “yes” instead of a “no”. For instance, you can tell your little girl that “Toys stay on the shelf” instead of “No, don’t throw the toys around”. Another way to prevent untoward instances at home would be to childproof your house, so that your toddler does not find herself in situations where you have to say “no”. You can reinforce good behaviour through encouragement and praise such as a ‘high five’ or a ‘thumbs up’. Try to set rules that are easy to understand so that your toddler, with limited verbal skills, can understand. Remain calm and composed without raising your tone or using words that cause shame to your toddler. Remember that this sort of behaviour takes time to control, so do not give up as your child will eventually understand.
Q 3: Bedtime is a very tedious and painful process for us as our toddler refuses to sleep. He simply goes on crying. We first started leaving him in his rooms and closing the lights, but that has just led to bed wetting every single night. What should I do?
Answer: Most parents struggle in trying to get their toddler to sleep. Bed wetting and sleeplessness is something that you should discuss with your doctor, if it is happening frequently, as he would be able to guide you on effective strategies. However, in the meantime, start preparing for bedtime early in the evening. Ensure that your toddler’s liquid intake is minimal at least three hours before bedtime. This will reduce the tendency of bed wetting. Secondly, try calming your child by playing with him and affectionately stroking him so that he feels protected and loved. Bedtime stories are a very effective way to end the day and your toddler will feel delighted and less anxious. Try giving him a warm bath before bedtime, which helps in relaxation and sleep. Make sure that he sleeps in a room that is dimly lit, so that he doesn’t feel scared. The essence is to ensure that your baby is calm and happy before bed time to ensure that he sleeps peacefully.
Q 4: I have often discussed spanking with my friends having toddlers. For me, spanking seems to work quite well as my toddler immediately stops her bad behaviour. Is spanking a good way to reinforce discipline in a toddler and why do my friends disapprove of it?
Answer: Spanking is equivalent to corporal punishment, which should not be used for disciplining a toddler, who is just developing social and emotional skills. Spanking can lead to negativity and dejection in the child. You should teach your child through discipline, but not by harming their psyche by spanking. You have mentioned that your toddler immediately stops the behaviour, however, you have not brought your point across to her. Hitting the child will lead to aggressive behaviour, and she will try to replicate this with other children. Spanking can also have long term consequences such as low self esteem, aggression, discouragement and introvert behaviour. Your child might start detesting you instead and might become even more rebellious later on. Spanking will not discipline your child, but would teach her the wrong lessons. She might consider hitting as an acceptable behaviour or might evolve into a child who underestimates her worth and lead to future abuse. Instilling fear in the child by way of spanking does not mean that the child respects you!
Q 5: My son fears the sound of the vacuum cleaner, thunder and other loud noises. He is even scared of opening doors as he fears that there might be monsters behind them. Please suggest some ways of getting rid of his fears and anxieties.
Answer: Fears are very common in everyone’s life, however, the difference is that adults know how to deal with them, while young infants are unsure. Most toddlers go through specific fears such as fear of noises, monsters, unpleasant cartoon characters or even people. Separation anxiety is also commonly found in toddlers between the age of 1 to 1 ½ years of age. Toddlers display fear and anxiousness when placed in a different situation where the parent is away from them. For instance, a child might fear being in day care, however, that feeling will become passé once he knows that the parent always returns. Eventually, the toddler learns to accommodate the change. Toddlers are not quite aware of the world and for them, there is no difference between reality and make-believe and this leads to their unfounded fears. Try to acknowledge their fears, rather than downplaying them. Comfort your child and help him to get used to such situations. Fears go away with time as toddlers learn to cope with them.
Q 6: My toddler is one and a half years old and is still unable to control his bladder. Despite trying different techniques, my toddler puts me in a fix as she wets herself frequently. How should I train her to tell me whenever she has an urge to use the bathroom and not wet herself?
Answer: Bladder and bowel control is a milestone that a child achieves usually between 2 to 3 years of age. Your child is too young to have mastered bladder control as it required emotional and physical readiness. By the time the child turns three, he or she are able to control their urges more easily. An indication that your child is on the path to master urine control is when she can stay dry for longer durations of time. Acquiring toilet habits is a tedious process and takes time. Try talking to your toddler and reinforcing the habit through a reward. Struggling with your baby can lead to negativity and this can lead to a situation where the child refuses to listen to the parent. Gauge your child’s development and adjust your expectations accordingly. You can even try luring your little one by buying an attractive potty chair which would be hard to resist. Keep trying and don’t give up!
Q 7: I want to build a playroom for my toddler. I would be unable to hire an interior designer as we have a limited budget. Kindly suggest some ways of designing a stimulating play environment for my child.
Answer: I would suggest that you use your basic instincts in designing your child’s playroom. Every toddler is unique, therefore being a mother, you would be able to understand the requirements very closely. Foster creativity in your play room and use your imagination to create an environment that is engaging and stimulating. Creativity does not necessarily come in by buying high-end gadgets and toys. You can place an empty cardboard box, a couple of wood blocks and crayons and your toddler will amaze you with his creativity. Create plenty of space inside the room for your child to explore and walk around freely. You can try creating interesting stations for trying out new things- such as a drawing station or a building blocks station. Introduce a theme in the room that your child enjoys. The theme should reflect in the decor of the room that includes the wall paper, lamps, posters, wall stickers, furniture and carpet. Remember that creativity is the key.
Q 8: I have observed that my two year old son snores a lot while asleep. Is this normal in children?
Answer: Snoring in children is usually an indication that the nose is blocked or the child is suffering from a cold. Snoring usually happens during the night time even if your child does not seem to be suffering from any symptoms and this is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). In OSA, the upper airway of the child is blocked and this prevents him from breathing while asleep and leads to snoring as the child starts breathing through his mouth. If you have observed this pattern over a number of days or if your child appears to be distressed at night while trying hard to breathe then you should see a doctor. Acute snoring can disrupt a child’s sleep and will lead to fatigue and poor concentration during the day. Usually mild OSA goes away as a child grows older, however, a doctor’s advice must be sought on this nonetheless.
Q 9: How much sleep does my 2 year old toddler need? What is the best time for sleeping and waking up?
Answer: Sleep is something that varies from child to child- both in terms of durations and timings. Therefore, estimating the number of hours that your child needs to sleep would be a very difficult thing to do. Toddlers sleep longer through the night for at least 10 hours with a short nap in the afternoon. Some toddlers like to rise as early as 5:30 in the morning. Putting your child to bed late at night in the hope of extending the wake-up timing is futile as the child will wake up early and then remain irritable throughout the day. Try to put your child to nap early in the afternoon for a limited time to ensure that she sleeps on time at night. The best time for putting your toddler to bed is ideally at around 7:00 pm. If you’re a late night person, then consider changing your sleep habits to keep pace with your early riser!
Q 10: My toddler likes limited food and is essentially a fussy eater. How can I change her eating habits?
Answer: Many toddlers go through a phase called ‘food neophobia’ wherein they fear new foods and are hesitant to try them out, thus limiting their options. This is very normal. Usually the age when toddlers develop neophobia is at the age of two. Remember that this is a phase and it will soon pass, so do not get upset by your toddler’s reluctance to eat new things that you introduce. It takes time for a toddler to learn that the new food is safe and delicious. Try eating and relishing the same food in front of your little one and by watching your child will gain confidence to try it out. Parents are role models for the child and watching you appreciate a meal will increase his willingness to try it out. Whenever your toddler eats a meal well, reward him with praise. Toddlers are attention seekers and they might just try out that new food just to get your praise and attention. At times, toddlers suffer from poor appetite. Ensure that your little one gets plenty of exercise throughout the day. Try arranging a ‘meal date’ for your toddler with a preschool friend who is a hearty eater. Toddlers enjoy eating with their friends and often mimic their actions too!
Q 11: My 1 ½ year old daughter becomes inconsolable at times. Just yesterday, she started crying and throwing a tantrum when I was taking off her night-suit and changing her into a fresh set of clothes. How can I control these bouts of temper tantrums?
Answer: Children are very sensitive at this age and temper tantrums is quite common. For you, this sort of behaviour might simply be unreasonable and uncalled for. However, for the child, this is quite normal as he or she is expressing their agitation at something that they did not like. For instance, a sensitive child would be inconsolable if another child touched their favourite toy for the fear of it getting ruined. In fact, for some parents, such sensitive kids might even refrain from playing in large groups. Toddlers have sharper and stronger senses that overwhelm them and they try to communicate their anger or irritation through temper tantrums. But beware, some tantrums are thrown by children to manipulate the parent and have it their own way. This is the time when a parent needs to stay firm and not get swayed by the child’s demands. Many experts advise parents to prevent situations that can trigger tantrums. For instance, if your child is already over-stimulated after attending a trip to the zoo, then do not follow it up by a trip to the supermarket as you would increase chances of the child throwing a tantrum.
Q 12: My two year old daughter wants to have bottle feeds throughout the night. This would be harmful for her teeth. How can I stop her from demanding milk bottles overnight?
Answer: The chances in this case are that your daughter has trouble in falling back to sleep at night and needs a bottle to do so. In this case, you need to phase out the night time feed, this might cause some distress in the child but be firm on your goal. Firstly, decide a time for weaning her from the bottle. Try to communicate to your child about why she should stop drinking out of a bottle. Ensure that she has enough comforters around her during bed time, like a teddy bear or something that she likes to cuddle up to. Celebrate your child’s first ‘bottle-free’ night with her with a reward to reinforce the habit. You might have to face a protesting toddler, but do not give in and go back to the bottle again.
Q 13: There are times when my 20 month-old son wakes up crying and is literally inconsolable. How can I comfort my distresses baby?
Answer: In such cases, first check if your son is well and has not been bitten by an insect or is not in uncomfortable. If your child is unresponsive to comforting by you, then the chance is that he has had a night terror. It is important for you to stay as composed as possible and try not to touch him, until or unless he might risk hurting himself. Waking up your child can prolong the night terror episode and make sleeping difficult. Children forget night terrors in the morning, so they are quite harmless. Ensure that your child is calm and in a happy frame of mind before bed time, as night terrors usually occur because of anxiety or exhaustion. Nevertheless, if you observe that the night terror episodes carry on for a long time and are violent, then do seek a doctor’s advice.
Q 14: My two year-old son displays a lot of aggression in the play area with kids his own age. It is really embarrassing for me. How can I stop him from being aggressive?
Answer: It might sound a little shocking, but aggression is a normal phase in the growth of a toddler. Your little baby is trying hard to be independent and is still struggling with language skills- therefore, his struggles might lead to anger and frustration. Hitting and biting are reactions that arise from this. However, this does not mean that you should not check your toddler’s behaviour and ignore it. Sit down and talk it out with your child and let him know that his behaviour is unacceptable. Reinforce good behaviour by rewarding it and try to give him the most attention when he is on his best behaviour. Toddler like to feel good, so praise him whenever he does anything good and see the magic that words do. You cannot reason with a toddler, but you can make them understand the consequences of his actions. Whenever you observe your son displaying aggression, control your temper and calmly make him realise his wrongdoing. There are children whose aggression can harm other children. In such cases, it is best to consult a child behaviour specialist for professional advice.
Q 15: I have a one year-old daughter and I am going to make my first flight journey alone with her on a two hour flight. Please give me some tips that can make my trip uneventful?
Answer: Travelling with a toddler is not quite the nightmare that most parents dread. If you are travelling for a long journey, then try to book nonstop flights that are schedules around his nap times. Your one year old has probably just learnt to walk, so try to find a spot at the airport where your little one can run freely and enjoy his newfound independence before being confined on his seat in the plane. Opt for a seat near the aisle rather than one near the window, so that your toddler can walk a little and you can make easy trips to the restroom without disturbing the other passengers. Make it to the airport well in advance and board early. If you are unable to hold on to your child, then do seek the help of the flight attendants in helping you with the overhead luggage bin. Bring enough supplies with you in terms of toys and food to keep your toddler occupied. Do not rely on the food that is served on the aircraft alone. Another thing to watch out for is the ear pain that occurs while takeoff and landing. Buy your kid a drink and insist that she sucks on to the straw during takeoff and landing to ease the changes in the cabin air pressure. Chewing is also helpful, so bring a good supply of chewy snacks.