How to Help for an Children Build New Behaviors Skip

Elbows on the table, temper tantrums, biting — tots are full of unpleasant behaviors that make you want to pull out your hair. You can’t expect new behaviors to take hold overnight, but gentle nudging gradually moves your little one toward improved behaviors. As your child builds new behaviors, he is better equipped to handle new social situations he faces.

Define Behaviors

Before your child changes how he acts, he needs to know which behaviors are inappropriate. Sure, you could pick on several of his behaviors, but the University of Michigan Health System suggests sticking to only one or two at a time. This sets your kiddo up for success so he isn’t overwhelmed by making too many behavioral changes all at once. Let him know specifically what you expect. Say, “Name-calling hurts feelings. I want you to work on not calling other people names.”


Practice makes the new behavior a habit for your little one. Pretend play is a toddler-friendly way to practice new habits. So, if your tot refuses to let others play with his toys, you can practice sharing through role play. Take turns sharing a toy. Setting up practice situations with another tot can also help him get in the habit of sharing. Stay close to the action so you can support your tot in practicing his new behavior. You might gently remind him by saying, “Sharing is a kind way to act toward your friend. Can you give him a turn with your toy car?”


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using positive reinforcement through praise and rewards to encourage new behaviors. Changing a behavior is never easy, but giving your tot some incentive and reinforcement may make it a little more appealing. Verbal praise is a simple option for letting your little one know he’s on the right track. For a more formal reward system, try a sticker chart. When your kiddo does well with his new behavior, let him put a sticker on the chart.


The way you handle the behavioral change process can affect how well your tot responds. The Mayo Clinic recommends showing unconditional love and acceptance to your little one. This keeps the process positive instead of bogging him down with negative feedback on his behaviors. Staying patient and consistent with the behavioral changes is key when working with a stubborn toddler. If you lose your temper over his refusal to pick up his toys, you probably won’t get anywhere. Turning the project into a game makes the new behavior fun

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