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

The Critic

Your child doesn't hesitate to tell people what he really thinks about how they look or what they're wearing.

Why he does it: The world is still new to toddlers, and they're very observant. They use their growing language skills to express what they see -- very honestly!

The fast fix: Apologize to the offended person without going overboard. If you can get your child to apologize too, great, but don't turn it into a power struggle -- you don't want to make a bigger deal about the apology than the insult itself.

What to say later: Toddlers don't yet realize how powerful words can be, so use the incident as a teachable moment. Say, "Sometimes words can hurt people's feelings, so you need to use words to make other people feel good." If his insult was spurred by curiosity ("Mommy, why is that man so fat?"), assure him that he can always come to you with questions in private.

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