Parenting tips: How to improve toddler behavior

Toddlers are infamous for tantrums and other behavior issues. To encourage listening and cooperation, follow these parenting tips.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Life can be frustrating for toddlers. Though eager to show their independence, toddlers can't always move as swiftly as they'd like or express their needs. This combination can lead to tantrums and misbehavior. But you can teach your toddler to behave well by providing love, attention, praise, encouragement and a degree of routine. Consider these practical parenting tips.

Show your love

Positive attention tops the list of parenting tips for toddlers. Make sure your displays of affection for your child outnumber any consequences or punishments. Hugs, kisses and good-natured roughhousing reassure your child of your love. Frequent praise and attention also can motivate your toddler to follow the rules.

Accept your child

As your child grows, he or she will display certain personality traits. Some of these are learned, others genetic. Respect your child's developing individuality and don't expect him or her to be just like you. While you're likely to notice certain features of your child's temperament, avoid labeling them — which can encourage bad behavior. Instead, nurture your child's personality by finding ways to help him or her feel confident. A strong-willed child, for instance, has perseverance. Build on your child's strength by encouraging him or her to play with a challenging toy.

Minimize rules

Rather than overloading your child with rules from the outset — which might frustrate him or her — prioritize those geared toward safety first and gradually add rules over time. Help your toddler follow the rules by childproofing your home and eliminating as many temptations as possible.

Feb. 14, 2014 See more In-depth