Toddle About Blog

Getting your Toddler to Listen and Cooperate

Getting your Toddler to Listen and CooperateEncouraging your toddler to listen and cooperate can sometimes be a challenge. So many parents tell me that their little ones have suddenly started saying “no” to everything, have difficulty sharing, have become picky eaters and throw tantrums when they don’t get their own way. It can be a tough time for parents, but these behaviours are developmentally normal and healthy. Toddlers begin to independently explore their own identities, separate from their parents. Pushing boundaries is their way of exploring how the world works.

It’s also worth remembering that children of this age are going through a critical period of brain development, with 90 per cent of the brain developing in the first three years of life and more than a million neural connections being produced each second. Additionally, toddlers won’t have developed attention skills yet, so they have difficulty maintaining focus for very long. Their language skills are generally limited and their thinking is very literal, making it hard for them to understand and process everything you say to them. Continue reading

Should it be Illegal to Smack Children?

Controversy Corner SmackingBy Raymond Arthur, Professor of Law at Northumbria University, Newcastle.

With Scotland set to become the first UK country to make it illegal  to smack children, the debate has opened up about whether  the rest of the UK should follow suit.

What is the Current Law on Smacking?

The current laws in Britain today prohibit adults from smacking, pushing or shoving other adults. They also protect pets from violence. However, parents are allowed to use physical force to punish their children, provided the punishment does not escalate beyond ‘reasonable punishment’.

In England and Wales, under section 58 of the Children Act 2004, parents who are accused of causing Actual Bodily Harm to their children cannot invoke the defence of reasonable punishment if their smacks cause mental harm, bruising, scratching or reddening of the skin. Continue reading

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word…

When us as adults  apologise, our children see this as us being fair and that we are trying to understand and listen to them.

When us as adults apologise, our children see this as us being fair and that we are trying to understand and listen to them.

By Anne Goldsmith, owner of Behaviour First Consultancy.

How many times do we ask our children to say they are sorry?  How many times do we ‘make’ children apologise for something they have said or done? But what about adults?

But it often comes out in an insincere way, doesn’t it? They don’t really mean it, because they have been told to say it.

As a parent and a teacher, I always ‘ask’ children to say sorry, although I insist on taking it a step further.  I ask children to be specific.  Saying sorry is easy and doesn’t really mean anything if it’s not linked to what you are sorry for.

When children are specific with their apology, they are actually thinking about what they have done and whether it was a good choice.

So, for example, “I’m sorry for hitting Billy with my pencil case.”

But what about adults? Should we apologise to our children when we get it wrong? Continue reading

Once Bitten: How to help a child that bites

Children bite for different reasons. It can be caused by anything from anger or frustration to boredom, jealousy or sadness.

Children bite for different reasons. It can be caused by anything from anger or frustration to boredom, jealousy or sadness.

By Anne Goldsmith – Positive Behaviour Consultant & Parenting Coach.

Being a parent isn’t easy for anyone, but having a child who bites makes it all the more challenging.  It’s embarrassing and can lead to you and your child being excluded from playdates and parties. It will probably feel like your child will never change their behaviour.  But it can be done. Child behaviour expert Anne Goldsmith explains how…

I first encountered childhood biting when my son was about 2½ years old. We were at a toddler group where the mums were chatting happily and the children playing nicely. Suddenly, the peace was shattered by loud screaming.  A child came running to his mum saying that one of the girls had bitten him. He showed us his arm – with definite teeth marks, bright red and already with a bruise forming.

At the time, I remember being shocked and horrified. “How could a child do that?” I thought, “How could their mum let them do that?” Typical responses, looking back now. But it was another couple of years before I realised that it really wasn’t that simple…

When our second child was just over a year old, she started to bite.  The first time it happened, we were on holiday and we were coming to the end of a fun day having enjoyed some real, quality family time. Continue reading

Creating Your Ideal Family Culture: 5 questions to make sure you’re on track

By Svetlina Jeanerettblossom-house-pic

When we embark on our parenting journey, we are thrown very much in at the deep end. Many of us feel overwhelmed and our relationships are tested to the limits. We’re getting to know this precious little person who is changing our world – but we are also learning a great deal about ourselves.

We’ve imagined what our child will be like, what sort of parents we want to be and also pictured what life as a family would be like.  Then as they arrive, the time for planning often stops and we soon become reactive, simply doing our best to cope.

But having a baby is only but the start of having a family.  And in my mind, a great culture is the crux a happy family life.  A harmonious home life is the springboard to fulfilling our individual potential – it is the wish of every parent but it is something that requires focus, planning and good communication to achieve. Continue reading

The Terrible Twos – Terrible For Whom? This is what your child is going through…


The development of strong and changeable feelings can often spill over into difficult behaviour.

By Dr. Helen Andrews, Clinical Psychologist.

The Terrible Twos – we’ve all heard of them, and many of us dread them. But what are they and why do many, but not all, children go through them?

Although called the terrible twos, many parents find that their child starts to become more challenging before their second birthday. It often coincides with becoming a confident walker and climber and perhaps having a few words. This is no coincidence.

Our children change so much over the first two years. Initially, they are so helpless and so completely dependent on us for everything. Over time they learn new skills; rolling, sitting, crawling and walking, and new ways of expressing themselves, from crying through babbling and then talking.

The early maturation of the sympathetic nervous system results in ‘junior toddlers’ (around 10 – 18 months) living life full of exuberance and excitement, embracing every challenge. As parents, we delight in these developments. We smile and encourage their efforts. We clap as they take their first steps and are proud as they climb up on the sofa for the first time. We listen intently as they babble at us, and strive to keep the conversation going. Studies show that Continue reading

Who’s The Boss? How to meet your little one’s needs AND stay in control

Written by Dr. Helen Andrews, Child Psychologist


It is important for your child to learn that they have a say and can influence the world, so we do need to listen to what our child is telling us about what they want. However, they also need to learn that there are limits to behaviour.

We expect toddlers to have lots of physical energy, but they also have lots of emotional energy – when they find something funny they can’t stop giggling, and when they’re cross we really know about it! They are still developing the ability to regulate their feelings and can be overwhelmed by their emotions. This is also true about their behaviour. Not only are they still learning what the rules are, they also have to resist the impulse to act on their urges.

Add to this their natural impulse to explore the world around them, and it’s no wonder that ‘toddlerhood’ can prove both a wonder and a challenge for parents. A toddler’s vocabulary often includes ‘mine’ and ‘want it’ and ‘no’ – when is the time to let them have what they want, and when do parents need to set limits and say ‘no’? Continue reading

Does your child have an embarrassing habit? Here’s how to deal with it…

By Lorraine Thomas, Parenting Expert

Children will often perform their favourite embarrassing habits when they are bored.

A lot of toddlers tend to pick their nose when they are tired or bored

“Please take your hands out of your pants!”

“Stop picking your nose!”

I frequently talk to parents who are tearing their hair out over habits their little ones are developing that they desperately want to stop.  It wouldn’t be quite so bad if they only did it at home.  But toddlers usually save their most anti-social behaviour for special moments – with their grandparents, at the nursery door, performing in the nursery play or at the supermarket checkout.

It’s natural to feel under pressure as a parent, especially if your toddler is performing in public.

Take a deep breath and remember, lots of seemingly unsavoury toddler habits are just a natural part of growing up.  They show that your little one is developing normally.  Like most parents, you may get really embarrassed (especially if other people see it happen and comment) but your little one can’t understand what all the fuss is about.  The chances are, they may not even know they’re doing it.  Your toddler will have very different ideas from you when it comes to anti-social behaviour.  You’ll notice that this becomes very obvious again when they become a teenager. Continue reading

How to Discipline Your Child Effectively (without using the Naughty Step)

Written by Dr. Helen Andrews.

If they are overwhelmed, then manage them by scooping them in a big hug and consoling them.

If they are overwhelmed, then manage them by scooping them in a big hug and consoling them

Ask most people what they think of when they hear the word ‘discipline’ and they think about rules, punishments, maybe setting boundaries. However, the Latin origin of the word is disciplina, meaning teaching and learning – think about Jesus’ Disciples and what discipline people study at University.

So when we think about how to effectively discipline our children, we need to think about what we want them to learn. To do well at school, in social groups and in society at large, they do need to know how to behave – what not to do, but also what to do.

So yes, we do need to set boundaries and stick to them, we do need to say ‘no’ at times and we may need to withdraw our children if things get out of hand. But we also need to pay attention to all the things they do right and praise them when they make an effort. Continue reading