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Toddler behaviour: a toddler’s vital role

toddler behaviour tired legs
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Toddler behaviour: a toddler’s vital role

toddler behaviour tired legs
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cheeky toddler behaviour

Toddler behaviour: infuriating but essential!


It’s Wednesday, you and your toddler had a busy morning; you did the school run, went to the dentists, and then played at the park. You’re back home now and your toddler wants a snack. You’ve offered them four snacks already but none of them are right. They are getting angry, you are getting angry. You feel overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, bewildered, and stressed by your toddler’s behaviour. Why won’t they just pick something and get on with it?!

It is common for parents to feel overwhelmed, especially if they feel like they’re locked in a battle of wills with their toddler. Toddlers can push back against every request; they also have strong opinions on everything from whether they should be dressed to what colour cup they want.   So, to understand what’s going on here let’s turn it around. Imagine that there’s a job advert for your family:

Toddler needed for full time role

A new opportunity has arisen in our family so we’re looking for a specialist to join our team. We need a toddler! Their responsibilities include changing the family dynamic, increasing fun and noise levels, and changing the way we look at the world.  

Toddler job description

The toddler who joins our family will need to be willing to involve themselves in the following learning objectives

toddler behaviour
  • Walking, running and jumping
  • Finding new ways to communicate within our team
  • Engage in a range of play activities
  • Perform real life scientific experiments to explore the world around them
  • Learning new skills and facts
  • Enjoy discovering food and different ways to experience it
  • Pushing the boundaries of fashion choices
  • Gaining an understanding of bodily functions and their own control of them
  • Gaining an individual understanding of how to fall asleep
  • Reflecting on who they are and their place in the world

And above all, they successful candidate will learn to navigate the relationships in our family; define their own position in our team, and, finally, begin to understand their place in the world!!  

Toddler person specification: behaviours and qualities

Certain qualities are necessary to enable the candidate to meet their objectives and fully develop their place in the family. The successful applicant will exhibit behaviours demonstrating these vital toddler qualities:

determination, strong willed, persistent toddler
  • determination– they will fall over and need to get back up and try again!
  • strong willed – they need to find their place in the world and what they like and dislike and be able to communicate that effectively
  • self-motivation – there are lots of distractions in the world and they need to be able to manage themselves to meet the needed learning objectives
  • Bravery – they will face a lot of new experiences during this job!
  • resilience– meeting all the learning objectives will mean overcoming a range of obstacles
  • individuality – there are many external influences that will exert control 
  • curiosity– the level of experimentation required to meet the objectives needs a curious nature
  • confidence– confidence will be key in navigating new relationships and finding their way in the world!
  • ambition– there are a lot of objectives to meet! They will need the drive and ambition to keep learning and growing

They must wholeheartedly embrace every self-development opportunity they encounter.  

Toddler behaviour and career progression

Successfully leaving the toddler years with all the qualities needed to navigate the next phase will require an extra dose of determination and strong will!  

The parent’s role

…so that’s our imaginary job role.

As you can see, the exact qualities toddlers need to learn develop in the toddler years, are those that parents most want them to have as adults. However, they’re also the qualities that create the ‘toddler behaviour’ that so intensely frustrates parents in the moment! You want your toddler to be determined to get back up every time they fall when learning to walk; but that determination applied to wearing only a swimming costume and tutu on the school run can be incredibly frustrating!

Certainly, you need boundaries to keep your inquisitive toddler safe; however, those same boundaries are the ones they will push in their search for individual freedom!

toddler parent patience

To nurture those qualities in your toddler requires a lot of patience on your part. You have to allow your toddler freedom to explore, lots of control and chances to take risks but ensure they emerge from toddlerhood safely. Providing more control to your toddler can lessen conflict. For example, you can provide a choice of coat, cup, a shoes, or activity. Allow your little one to make their way in the world in order to meet all those learning objectives!

By Emily Taylor – It’s a Sling Thing (a CalmFamily hub)

Emily lives in Coventry with her two children and her husband Paul. She is part of the CalmFamily leadership team, running It’s Sling Thing, a hub of CalmFamily. Em home educates her children and supports parents with interactive online workshops.

Her next workshop is a toddler behaviour workshop that will delve deeper into this and loads more.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Calming & nurturing toddlers, Toddler behaviour, Toddler development, Toddler play, Toddlers
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