WT 035: Can You Help Me Understand My Toddler?

When Wire Talk first launched, we devoted an entire episode to talking about toddlers. Listen now if you missed it! However, questions about toddlers continue to be some of the most frequently asked ones, so Karen decided to revisit the toddler years and answer more of your questions! The common theme: Can you help me understand my toddler?

Question 1: My 3.5 year old is hitting at school. Not only is this embarrassing but completely inappropriate. The teachers are looking to me for answers on how to control him, but I have tried everything and can’t get him to stop. I am very upset by the matter. What can I do?

Karen's Answer: I think it’s hard for you to control him while he’s at school away from you.  I would ask the teacher in what way is she redirecting him? If she is a good preschool teacher, she should have some tactics on how to handle the situation. Hitting children is not a new thing.  You can then talk the same language she is saying to him at school in order to be consistent.

Talk to your son, and give him other options rather than hitting to get what he wants. ex: Talk to the teacher, walk away, etc.  Praise him for his good behavior.

Question 2: I have a bright red, 4.5 year old daughter. God made her a leader, bold, strong, and fearless at times. I admire that and I realize that is God’s design, but how do you balance that “spirit” with discipline? How much “grace” is allowed especially in front of her green brother and blue sister (who are triplets). How do you balance the heart of the matter, where you cherish their heart over their actions in face of other siblings, who likely can’t understand that distinction?

Karen's Answer: I love that you are referencing all the colors! For those moms that don’t know what red, green, and  blue are you can listen to my talk in the Mom Core curriculum on Becoming a Student of your Child.  But, to answer your question, I think the red “spirit” wants to always control.  It is the job of a mom in my opinion to give this natural born leader things she can control, as long as it’s not you, and when she doesn’t comply with plan, then discipline maybe required. Anytime you discipline a child, especially a Red, discipline them in private. Reds are easily embarrassed and they don’t like to lose face.

Question 3: My 4 year old daughter is in a season of pouting. Any tried and true ways of addressing it and advice on how to get her to stop?

Karen's Answer: Pouting is like whining, they do it to get our attention, even if it’s negative attention. I believe the best way to handle it is to address the situation, “Stop pouting, and if you can’t stop, then go to your room until you can get into a better frame of mind.”

At four, your daughter can understand that. I know—I’ve just recently had those conversations with my three-year-old granddaughter.

Question 4: My 4-year-old has started to talk back and say “no” when I tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Of course my 3 year old daughter sees and hears this behavior and now she will behave the same way when her brother does it. I don’t always have the best comebacks…”Because I said so…” “ Because I’m your mom and you need to respect and listen to me.”...”Santa is watching you”...”I’m trying to teach you what is right and wrong” “I’m trying to keep you safe”..

Karen's Answer: As a mom, you are trying to teach your child about obedience.  That is a hard lesson for anyone to learn, especially a four-year-old. The reasons you are giving them are all correct. Sometimes I feel at age four it’s better to have a consequence for their disobedience rather than trying to rationalize with them.  The bottom line, is they need to learn to obey, because mom is the authority.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode: 

Parenting By The Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child by John Rosemond

Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives by Dr. Henry Cloud

Mom Core DVD

Mom Core Study Guide

Letters to Moms by Karen Stubbs

Personality Plus for Parents: Understanding What Makes Your Child Tick by Florence Littauer

Moms, we know your time is precious. Thank for spending it with us. We hope you feel encouraged, equipped and most importantly—the peace of God.