Top 10 Toddler Taming Tips

7. Respectfully and selectively ignore some behaviors.

Toddlers are attention-getters and they love to figure out what pushes your buttons. If you're not careful you'll discover a lot of things do bug you. So when those annoying behaviors kick in (the whine, pout, screech, your best response is NO response. Pretend your toddler is invisible and that you are deaf. I've coached many parents on this one and most won't believe me. So I tell them, "Watch." The first sign the toddler tries a whine I just turn and pretend to do something else. And within seconds the toddler stops the behavior. Why? Simple, it doesn't work. Also watch out on those tantrums. Boston College found the more attention you give a tantrum, the longer it lasts. Once a tantrum starts, ignore, ignore, ignore.

8. Use calming rituals to help a toddler soothe and calm down.

Research shows that the most active (and aggressive) time EVER in our lives is between the ages of two and four. Toddlers are always on the go. Use a preschool-teacher's secret: always follow an active activity (running, jumping, marching, etc) with a calming activity (reading a book, giving a massage, singing a quiet song, doing a finger play). A toddler doesn't have an internal brake system and needs you to help calm him down. They also need "transition" time. Because they don't have an internal clock, they will rely on you: "Let's start putting our toys away. It's almost time for lunch." "When we've finished singing Twinkle-Twinkle it will be time to brush our teeth. Warning: not giving an adequate warning that a change is coming is one of the fastest ways to cause a meltdown. Give warnings!

9. Teach feeling words.

Hitting and biting are common with toddlers. In fact the  top reason toddlers are "expelled" from day care or preschool is biting. One way to help reduce the biting and hitting is to teach emotion words and the best way is always in context: "You’re sad! Is Johnny sad!" "Look at that little boy. He’s happy. See his happy face!" "Let's look at the pictures in our book. See Sally’s face. She looks scared. Make your face look scared!" You can teach little ones sign language for emotions. (And don't worry about purchasing some fancy book with sign gestures, just make up your own signs. My doctoral dissertation was in trying to determine the emotions toddlers and preschoolers are able to identify and the developmental sequence. I interviewed hundreds of two to five year olds and discovered that the four emotions toddlers learn first (in in this order) are "sad, happy, mad and scared." I also discovered that toddlers frequently confuse sad, mad and scared.

10. Be calm so your toddler can mirror you.

Toddlers are active and so their frustrations can quickly escalate. And they don't yet have that little brake switch inside to help them stop and cool down. So be their brake system. The fastest way to escalate a toddler's frustration is to yell or be upset yourself. The faster way to slow them down is to get eye to eye and calmly mirror their emotions. Be calm to help your toddler be calm.

Of course, the real trick is to find out what works best for your toddler. Once you discover the secret use the same trick over and over.  Toddler Tamer Trick #11: Toddlers love routines! And never forget Toddler Tamer Trick #12: PRAISE. PRAISE. and PRAISE what your little one does right! Just use an exaggerated voice and add an exclamation point to the end of your acknowledgment.