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Early Mental Health Issues In Kids? Look For These 4 Signs

Paediatrician Shares 4 Simple Ways To Manage Challenging Behaviour In Toddlers

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : December 13, 2022 7:31 PM IST

Toddlerhood is a phase where they learn to develop a will. They are becoming aware of what they can do and trying to test their newfound abilities. During toddlerhood, your child is growing to trust their abilities. For example, they may try to take this spoon away from your hand to feed themselves or insist on eating alone. There is curiosity coupled with the ability and develop self-confidence. However, if the parent or the caregivers continue to control or impose repeated comments like don't do this! Don't touch it, you will spoil it, or any negative appraisal, for example, telling them why you always make yourself dirty etc.

Temper Tantrums

If a child experiences restrictions repeatedly, it can discourage them or turn them defiant. They shall start throwing temper tantrums, one of the common challenging behaviours observed in toddlers. Refusal to follow requests, e.g. refusal to eat certain foods and wear certain clothes. Being fussy, and certain harmful behaviours like biting or kicking or hurting other people, and expressing anger to get things on their own. Temper tantrums if things are not the way a toddler wants them to be. Some more commonly observed behavioural problems by parents are fussiness, hurting others by hitting, biting or kicking etc.

Social-Emotional Skills

Toddlerhood is the time for social and emotional development. However, a lack of social-emotional skills in response to their fears and anxiety and difficulty processing their emotions and feelings can often lead to misbehaviours in toddlers. In addition, various physical factors can enhance their behavioural challenges like inadequate sleep, high screen watching time, feeling hungry, or any change in their routines or environment around them can trigger challenging behaviours.

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Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician Dr Himani Narula, Director & Co-founder of Continua kids, shares four simple ways to manage these challenging behaviours in toddlers.

  1. First, Ignore. You can ignore minor attention-seeking behaviours and avoid negative responses or reinforcement to teach your child. However, negative comments may also lead to an increase in attention-seeking behaviour by them.
  2. Secondly, distraction is another way to help your child forget negative behaviour.
  3. Thirdly, encouraging empathy and teaching your child to label their emotions appropriately as to how they feel. It can help them process their feelings and be more empathetic.
  4. Lastly, remember to reinforce good behaviours positively. Giving attention to the toddler for their excellent behaviours can motivate them to repeat it.


Negative reinforcement in the form of physical punishment, like slapping, can lower their self-esteem. Spoil the parent-child relationship and can lead to mental health problems. Shouting, shaming or isolating the child to punish them can humiliate the child and lead to various mental health problems later in their lives. Hence, it's essential to understand that toddlers are learning social-emotional skills, and it is normal for them to throw temper tantrums while developing.


However, managing the behaviour appropriately by ignoring or distracting and building empathy, teaching them to label their emotions and process them properly, positive reinforcement for good behaviour, setting rules and avoiding punishment, and physical discipline are some rules to manage childhood behavioural challenges.

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