Breaking Your Toddler's Bad Habits

Peace Talks

You can equip your 1-year-old with more appropriate tools for getting his message across as well as boost his self-control with these expert strategies.

  • Show your disapproval. The instant your child’s fists fly, state loudly and firmly, “No! We do not hit.” Self-restraint doesn’t come easily at this age, so you’ll need to repeat yourself often to drive home the point.
  • Remove your toddler from the situation. Calmly take her to a quiet corner and explain that hitting or biting is not allowed. This will give her a moment to regain her composure.
  • Block the assault. If you see an attack coming, catch your toddler’s hand in midair or place your hand over his mouth. The dramatic halt will certainly grab his attention.
  • Apologize for your child. If she hits or bites a playmate, turn your attention to the victim. See if the child is okay, and make sure your toddler hears you apologize; she’ll see that you don’t like how she has behaved, and she’ll gradually learn empathy. Apologize to the other parent, who will likely understand that you’re working on curbing this passing habit in your child.
  • Never hit or bite back. It’s an ineffective way to show your toddler what his actions feel like to others. Instead, it conveys that this kind of behavior is acceptable.
  • Don’t play-fight. Though roughhousing can be fun, avoid nibbling or hitting when you play. If your child strikes you, react with a frown or a sad face. You might say, “That hurts Mommy.” Never laugh off violence.
  • Encourage words. Help your toddler use language and gestures to communicate. He may be able to point to his cup when he wants milk or say simple words like “mad” when he’s frustrated. If you reward his efforts to talk, your child will ultimately learn that words are a more effective and socially acceptable way to meet his needs than violence.

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