How to Handle Teasing, Rude Behavior, and Hissy Fits with Ease
Toddlers are curious creatures with even even more curious antics. You might notice teasing and rude behavior like interrupting and hissy fits are more common when your youngster hits 18 months. What does this behavior mean? Should you be alarmed?
In this Baby Care Weekly article, we’ll share insights into the top three common kids behavior, why they happen and the ways of effectively handling them.
At home your shoes go missing and you find that your child has hidden them under the couch. Or at school, your child’s teachers report how your youngster is teasing his playmate for wearing glasses.
Teasing can range from playful to hurtful and this kids behavior, although common, can be very frustrating for parents who must deal with particularly mischievous toddlers. Some kids may even deliberately look at you in the eye while doing something “bad” just to see how you will react.
Why it happens:
According to developmental psychologists, teasing is a sign of cognitive advance that happens when a child reaches two years old. Kids tease to test their environment and see what they can get away with. They usually do it out of curiosity and rarely out of malice.
What to do:
1. Do not react
Children usually get a rise out of teasing. Keep this in mind the next your child exhibits mischievous behavior. When you do not give the emotional reaction he was hoping for, your child will no longer feel powerful and he will no longer feel that his teasing techniques are worth the trouble.
2. Teach empathy
It’s easy for a self-involved child to go overboard with teasing and not see that his taunt is hurting others. Instill empathy on your child by letting him realize the effect of his behavior. Ask your child to put himself in the shoes of the other person (for example, tell your child “How would you feel if I hid your shoes and you couldn’t find them?”).
Empathy doesn’t overnight but research has shown that talking to children about the consequences of their behavior will in fact help them become more sensitive and thoughtful of others’ feelings.
2. Replace bad habits with good ones
In some cases, children tease others as a way for them to get something. For instance, your son may pick on his younger sibling to get more of your attention. Instead of battling it out with punishment, redirect his attention on something more productive.
Consider asking your son for help in taking care of his new baby brother or encourage him to teach his sibling with the fun games he knows. With this approach, he will not feel excluded and may even feel that he has a new, exciting role to play in the family.
Your child tugs at your arm or whines “Mom! Mom! Mom!” while you are on the phone. Interrupting behavior is fairly common between the ages of 2-4 years old but it can be exasperating to have your child breaking in on conversations or interrupting when you are doing chores.
Why it happens:
In the eyes of your toddler, everything and everyone exists to meet her need. When she sees something or someone that redirects your attention, she may perceive it as competition or a threat.
Additionally, your child hasn’t quite developed her short-term memory at this age and may be quite impulsive. This can cause her to say or do things immediately with no regard to the long-term consequences or whether she actually means them.
What to do:
1. Teach and model good manners
Children learn by example so the best way to address rude interrupting behavior is to teach good manners and to apply them yourself. Notice if you and your partner interrupt one another when talking and try to remedy this bad habit.
There are also many fun children’s story books that talk about proper etiquette and good communication. Read these to your child and discuss the importance of the lessons being taught.
2. Acknowledge your child
Some children may interrupt because they feel neglected or out of place. Whenever your child is about to interrupt you in the middle of a conversation, let her feel that you acknowledge her need and will get to her shortly after you are done talking. This can come in the form of a simple gesture such as a nod, prolonged eye contact or holding your child.
3. Be strategic
It’s best to be strategic when you are taking your child with you to meetings or when you are doing chores. For example, when meeting up with friends, set the rendezvous at a child-friendly location such as a restaurant with a playpen.
Ask your partner to take turns watching your toddler so your child will not feel left out and impulsively try to catch your attention.
Tantrums are common kids behavior and they can take on different forms. Some children whimper and wail, others can be more intense, breaking toys and flailing their arms.
In any case, emotional meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They’re stressful not just for you and your kid but everyone in the immediate vicinity. Have you seen a child screaming at the top of his lungs in a packed restaurant. It’s not a pretty picture.
Why it happens:
Between the age of 18 months to 36 months your child starts to hear and learn many new words from the people around him. However, his communication skills and language are very limited so he can’t adequately use words to express his needs just yet.
Imagine having no idea how to tell someone you that you are extremely hungry and need food. Frustrating right?
A child’s hissy fit results from him not getting what he wants. It may be triggered by:
- Hunger, being tired or overstimulation
- Stressful situations in which the child feels helpless (ex. Family trouble, bullying, etc.)
What to do:
1. Keep calm
A child’s temper tantrum is extremely stressful especially when it happens in a public place. Remember you are the adult in the relationship and that having a meltdown yourself will only aggravate your child and make the situation worse. On the other hand, keeping your cool could help your child calm down.
Here’s a quick guide on breathing techniques you can practice anywhere and anytime you feel anxious:
2. Consider giving a time-out
The purpose of a time-out is to let your child go through the overwhelming emotions that he is feeling during a tantrum. This may be a good idea when the tantrum is particularly intense and other calming techniques are not working.
Make sure to explain what’s happening to your child (for example, tell your child “We’ll have a time-out so you can calm down. I’ll be right over there.”) and reinforce that the time-out is not a way of punishing him. During the time-out, make sure your child is safe but don’t give him attention until he is calm and composed again.
3. Talk about what happened
When the strong emotions subside, carefully talk to your child about what just happened. Acknowledge your child’s frustration and help him identify his feelings and what caused them.
Calmly explain to your child that he will get better results if he uses words and expresses himself in a calm way instead of in a hissy fit.
When everything is settled, hug your child and remind him that you love him. This is a simple way of showing that you appreciate his effort to calm down and communicate with you.