Please Don't Do That! How to Handle Inappropriate Toddler Behavior

It sometimes seems that toddlers do mortifying stuff at the worst moments just to drive you crazy, but the truth is that kids this age are naturally uninhibited. The good news is that these publicly humiliating moments get a lot easier to deal with once you understand why they happen. And you can encourage better behavior without making your child feel ashamed in the process. Read on for tips on managing the most common offenses.

The Nose-Picker

Your child plunges a finger into his nostril whenever the mood strikes, even when all eyes are on him.

Why he does it: Toddlers are fascinated with their body and its functions, and they won't put off self-exploration simply because other people are around. And since kids this age have limited self-control, they tend to act on every immediate physical urge.

The fast fix: The second you see your toddler's finger near his nose, offer him a tissue and say, "It looks like you need to blow your nose. Here, you can use this." Be nonchalant about it -- if you act disgusted or angry, he may keep picking just to provoke you.

What to say later: Talk about the difference between public and private behavior in simple terms. "Say that private is what you do by yourself at home, and public is what happens at preschool and at the store," says Jay Hoecker, MD, of the Mayo Clinic's Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, in Rochester, Minnesota. Explain that public nose-picking is rude because it makes other people feel uncomfortable. Remind him that if his nose is clogged or itchy, all he has to do is ask you for a tissue.

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