Toddlers exhibit all kinds of behaviors as they grow up. Temper tantrums, impulsiveness, and strange antics are a part of growing up as children learn to cope with societal expectations. Of course, different cultures respond differently to certain aspects of a child's behavior. Still, there are some general signs of behavior society considers good and others that require a closer look.
Some of the things mentioned on this list are perfectly normal if a toddler doesn't exhibit too many of these behaviors at the same time. Toddlers are still quite young and are often unable to deal with certain circumstances. Though this is normal, children who are exposed to certain environments may develop anxiety or even stress.
Parents can do a great deal to alleviate these behaviors by explaining things to their children in age-appropriate ways. Some of the things mentioned below can be mitigated with simple changes and compassion for young minds.
Here are some behaviors that might be signs. Still, thankfully there are plenty of experts who can help even the most baffled mom or dad figure things out. Remember, children don't come with an instruction manual and every parent questions what they do. It just matters that you try your best!
21 Exhibiting Phobias Or Fear
According to the Boston Children's Hospital, phobias are fears that disrupt a child's quality of life. If your toddler acts as if they're terrified of something specific, they may have a phobia. Phobias also don't go away just because a parent tries to soothe their child.
Children fear many things, but some common subjects for toddlers include spiders, insects, heights, blood, flights, or small spaces (claustrophobia).
Some phobias are inherited, others are caused by the child's environment, and others may be the result of biological reactions. For example, a child may not be producing enough dopamine or serotonin (feel-good chemicals), and feel fear as a result.
20 Separation Anxiety
Some children are used to having one parent home at all times. When things change for them, they may believe that they have become separated from their parent.
It's normal for children to feel discomfort or sadness when they're separated from their parents for a long time for the first time. However, some children may experience separation anxiety. This gets in the way of a child's routine, according to the Boston Children's Hospital.
In order to be diagnosed with separation anxiety, children must exhibit symptoms for 4 weeks. This may include fears they'll never see their loved ones, difficulty sleeping, or going out.
19 Getting Startled By Everyday Noises
It's normal for children to get startled by everyday noises. They're still getting used to the world around them and don't always understand that vacuums, sirens, or other forms of noise pollution are a part of daily life.
Most children lose their fear of some noises once their parents explain what is causing the sound, according to Mother For Life.
Still, some children are sensitive to certain sounds. This is a part of them, and being aware of their sensitivities can help you and your child cope with their fears in a healthy manner.
Reacting in a calm manner can help you and your child get to the root of the problem.
18 Misbehaving When Wearing Certain Clothes
Parents who would rather stay in sweatpants know that wearing suits, dresses, or certain fabrics can be a hassle at best, and extremely uncomfortable at worst. So it goes with toddlers!
According to Parents, toddlers are known to remove certain clothing items for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, kids may decide to suddenly change their outfits to get your attention.
Other times they may be uncomfortable in their adorable tiny tuxedo or fancy dress. If they're at the age in which they're learning to dress, they may simply be excited about learning something new. Plus, they're still learning about societal conventions in public.
According to Kids Health, the cause of nightmares is still unknown. Some children may get them as a result of a recent injury. Children who lived through a very difficult event, or other new circumstance they're not ready for may get nightmares. Toddlers may also feel their dreams were real, which is why they cry out for help from their parents.
Children with vivid imaginations may also have nightmares after watching certain TV shows, films, or reading certain books.
It helps to teach children that dreams aren't real, and limit exposure to certain types of entertainment.
16 Sudden Changes In Behaviors
Because toddlers are still learning how to interact with their world, adults, other children, and society, parents may dismiss certain sudden changes in behavior. It's common for children to suddenly change in behavior when they start going to daycare. Such changes could signify depression, bullying, or neglect, though there may be other reasons behind their changes.
Excessive accidents and scrapes could signify neglect. Increased clinginess could be normal. Providing extra support for your child before and after going to the babysitter could help. You should also pay attention if your normally obedient child suddenly becomes increasingly disrespectful, according to VeryWell Mind.
Not everything toddlers do is a result of hyperactivity or ADHD. According to Today's Parent, some children are naturally born with a need to take more risks than others.
Toddlers are also unaware of the dangers of running out onto the street, jumping from furniture, or touching an electric socket.
Many children can modify their behavior after an adult explains this to them. However, some children don't. They may be hyper, impulsive, or unable to focus on age-appropriate tasks. Such symptoms must last more than 6 months, and only a professional can let you know if your child's hyperactivity is of concern.
14 Acting On Impulses
A toddler's lack of impulse control may not necessarily result in disasters. Still, it's never too late for parents to teach their child age-appropriate lessons about how to behave.
As mentioned on VeryWell Family, children often act on their impulses because they are not familiar with their feelings. Other times, adults haven't made sure that children understand the directions they're given.
Some ways to help children with impulse control include teaching them how to identify emotions such as anger, happiness, or fear. It helps to ask them to repeat any directions or expectations. Let your child know you can answer their questions too.
13 Excessive Tantrums
Science Daily mentions that temper tantrums are normal for all children.
Parents should know that healthy children's tantrums are shorter, less aggressive, and less frequent than that of children who may exhibit signs of a bigger problem.
Research shows that children who have longer tantrums may be depressed or have a disruptive disorder. Of course, even healthy children may throw a tantrum if they're hungry, sick, or tired because they lack the words to express their needs.
How to tell tantrums apart? Watch out for destructive behavior, such as throwing things or acting out toward someone else, or long tantrums over consecutive days.
12 Behavior That Gets In The Way Of Age-Appropriate Interactions
Even children who normally behave well may have their rebellious moments. They won't always follow simple directions. Some children are hostile, aggressive, and consistently defiant. They may purposefully destroy or vandalize objects. These acts are often signs of antisocial behavior.
Children who grow up in unstable environments, who have a family history of antisocial behavior are at an increased risk of exhibiting antisocial behaviors themselves that interrupt their quality of life. In addition, children with undiagnosed hyperactivity disorders may also display antisocial or aggressive behaviors. This could get in the way of age-appropriate interactions with children or adults.
According to Baby Center, it's normal for toddlers to exhibit fear at the prospect of new noises. They may suddenly wail when you're both in separate rooms. Children have to learn to become independent, but each step in that direction also means becoming more comfortable with new experiences. This may cause fear that leads to increased clinginess.
In order to reduce clinginess, it helps to talk to your child as much as possible and help them understand their new experiences until they adjust.
Giving them a comfort blanket or reassuring them that you'll come back after work will go a long way.
10 Prolonged Nervousness In New Environments
Adults and children alike grapple with how to handle new situations. A certain amount of worry is normal, but excessive nervousness in new situations could signify underlying issues. Nervousness could simply mean a child is watching their environment and trying to be careful.
Red flags that could indicate excess nervousness in your toddler include feeling nervous when talking to children or adults they already know well.
Some children consistently avoid eye contact or complain about stomach aches just before it's time to enter social situations (parties, school, etc). Trembling around new people may also be a sign of exorbitant nervousness.
Adults often dismiss stress in children because their problems tend to feel small. According to Kids Health, children do feel stress and it's important for their parents and caregivers to teach them how to deal with it.
It helps to ask your children if something is on their mind. Once your child answers, listen to what they have to say. Just because a problem may seem mundane to you doesn't mean it doesn't mean the world to them. Letting your child get things off their chest and teaching them that life happens is a great way to help your toddler deal with stress.
8 Not Showing Interest In Play
Some parents worry if their children aren't interested in playing with other children, or if they don't seem capable of playing by themselves. Still, children may play with real objects (phones, shoes, boxes, etc).
According to Mom.me, children first learn to play alone. They then play next to each other without playing with each other. Later, children may copy each other or take turns, but they're still not working toward the same objective. Cooperative play is the last step in their development.
Parents should only be concerned if their children don't want to play at all, as this could be an early sign of autism.
7 No Simple Sentences
According to Made For Mums, children who are 18 months of age or older tend to start talking. They may not speak in recognizable words, but they'll make sounds that show an effort to communicate. Still, at least half of children's speech delays resolve themselves around the age of 3.
Boys usually speak later than girls. Children who have older siblings also usually speak later. Likewise with children who watch television for long periods because they're not around adults or others who are talking to them. Meanwhile, you can talk to your child as often as possible, teach them songs, or read to them.
6 Showing Signs Of Regression
According to The Successful Parent, toddlers may sometimes regress as a result of having a bad day. It may be easier for them to act as they did during a previous phase. This might not be a big deal as long it isn't happening often. Regression can happen at any age and is only of concern if it lasts for days or weeks.
One example is when adults take a mental health day off and decide to relax and do nothing.
Some children regress because they feel they might be getting sick, may not be getting enough sleep, or need to eat healthier.
5 Anxiety When Getting Dirty
According to Today's Parent, some toddlers go through phases in which they're obsessed with cleanliness. Some toddlers may be uncomfortable with foods that have certain textures, such as avocados or sauces. They may dislike sand on the beach, or want to wash their hands immediately after touching something sticky.
This may be because of their personalities. Regardless, some children may have sensory issues. Very nitpicky toddlers may have Sensory Processing Disorder. Signs of this include extremely picky eating, distress when getting their hands dirty as they play, extreme dislike of using certain fabrics, and fear of tilting their head back.
4 Difficulty Following Age-Appropriate Instruction
According to Understood, toddlers often have a difficult time following instructions. Children of all ages occasionally disobey rules or have a hard time following directions. Some children can't follow instructions because they might be too complex. Your child might remember to pick up their Lego's, but forget to put away their shoes.
It could also help to ask your toddler to do one or two things at a time instead of giving them an entire agenda to follow.
In some cases, an inability to follow age-appropriate directions could be an early sign of ADHD. But rest assured, a little patience can go a long way.
3 Routines That Resemble Rituals
As mentioned in All About Baby, children aged two and above may engage in ritualistic behavior. This can mean asking their parents to read them the same book two times, lining up teddy bears by size or color, or making sure their foods never touch.
Toddlers may insist on rituals in order to deal with new experiences. They may want a "pretty" cookie and may not accept one that is broken. Some parents may worry that their child has obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is only something to worry about if your child is still anxious after following through with their ritual. Most kids aren't.
2 Following You Everywhere
Google "toddler follows me everywhere" and your search results will include many moms who are frustrated that their child follows them everywhere. In some cases, children won't even stay with their father. They may follow you into the bathroom, the closet, or may become afraid when you deviate from their peripheral vision.
This stage of life sounds normal, especially when toddlers become more comfortable walking and running.
According to a forum at Baby Center, one way to solve this is to give the child small tasks. For example, if your child follows you into the living room, you could ask them to pick up their toys.
1 Problems With Sleep
There are several reasons why children have a hard time falling asleep. Though some children fare just fine, others may become moody if they're not getting enough sleep.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), some problems can be mitigated using routines that help your child wind down before sleeping.
Choose an appropriate bedtime and make sure your child feels relaxed at least 10 to 20 minutes before going to sleep. If your child enjoys being read to, you may want to read only one story. Be firm about your new routine. If your child still experiences problems with sleep, you can enlist help.