Looking after a toddler can be a very big responsibility indeed. Toddlers are defined as kids between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Quite evidently these kids have their own feeding and behavioral issues, which you as a parent will be fully aware of by now.
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The Terrible Twos
Paediatricians and child experts all over the world are quite consistent in their estimates that managing toddlers can be one of the most challenging times for young parents
It’s no wonder that this stage of a child’s growth and development has been referred to as the Terrible Twos. This is because these changes usually make themselves evident to parents around 2 years of age and carry on till the age of 4 years or so.
Some Common Concerns
While some problems regarding handling your toddler are evidently quite child specific, others have noted that there could be some very common concerns being faced by parents all over the world.
These relate to a host of problems that can conveniently be grouped into feeding issues and behavioral issues. Some of the more common issues are discussed below:
One common issue concerning the feeding of toddlers is related to their inconsistent feeding patterns.
One day you may find that your toddler has a ravenous appetite and is bringing the house down with its tantrums and cries for attention.
On other days you may find that your toddler has almost no appetite at all, and is consistently preferring sleep or playing to eating meals.
As a parent, you will likely have to deal with both of these phases of your child’s behavior. It’s best to wait and watch what is unfolding as each day progresses.
If the toddler in question remains happy and satisfied with its eating pattern, you have no great reason to worry. It is to be expected that the toddler will make a noise, start crying or throw a tantrum that tells you when it is hungry and needs its next meal.
Coupled with the feeding issues of toddlers are the more commonly experienced and talked about behavioral issues that are faced by parents every day.
These behavioral problems can range in power from screaming to throwing temper tantrums to a whole fully phased meltdown- which psychologists generally refer to as triggered by a Sensory Overload.
What is a Sensory Overload
A sensory overload may be defined more commonly as a situation where there are too many things happening at the same time.
For example, you or someone else in the same room may be trying to get your child’s attention by clapping, cooing and waving hands.
For the child, viewing and making sense of all these all these different actions at the same time is very likely to overwhelm your toddler. He or she will cry or scream in response. This is a sure sign of sensory overload.
The Meltdown Stage
When a toddler is so overcome, it cannot seem to make sense of what is happening around it and will go into sensory overload.
At times this can lead to a full blown meltdown. In these rare though not uncommon instances, the toddler will simply become unmanageable- much to the consternation of the parents and all who are witnessing this occurrence.
Dealing with this Menace
One of the best ways to deal with sensory overload or a full blown meltdown is to take your child into a much quieter environment, devoid of extra noises or movements.
After a short while, you will yourself notice that the child has quietened down and is more manageable than it was before. The problem has been solved.
How to deal with Snacking Issues
There will be times when your toddler will not be interested in eating very much indeed.
At other times, it will cry for more and more food- despite being quite satiated in the opinion of the caregiver.
Key situations like these will challenge the parent’s assumptions and lead them to think that they do not quite understand what the toddler is making a fuss about.
Experts always recommend nevertheless that parents should not indulge or let go into their child’s changing feeding patterns because this could become unmanageable in the long run, and also develop unwanted eating habits.
Giving a toddler snacks between meals could be one of the worst habits that you can create for your toddler.
Promoting Good Healthy Habits that Prevent Snacking
1. One of the best habits that you can create in your kids ‘routine is to draw up a meal plan in advance. It should include a balance of wholesome and healthy ingredients.
Oatmeal, whole grains and legumes, healthy fruits and vegetables should all be included in a toddler’s healthy meal plans.
2. It’s very important that you must be a good role model yourself. Don’t indulge in snacks yourself, or become a victim of sweet and salty foods that most of the adult population are inclined to have.
- Another good habit is to prevent giving junk foods as a bribe. It is quite possible that your child will end up preferring the junk foods to the healthy ones.
- Make a wise and educated choice to cut out excess sugar from your toddler’s foods. Marketers all over the world have been sucking in parents into indulging in the wrong food habits for their kids.
Quite erroneously, they have been led into this belief that popping a sweet, lozenge or similar confectionary item into their child’s mouth will keep them quiet, happy and satisfied.
While this is quite okay in the short run, it ultimately leads to a situation where the child’s appetite will only be satisfied by giving it more of the same sweets, since it releases dopamine into their system.
- Lastly, don’t forget to keep your toddler well hydrated especially during hot summer days. It is quite possible that what you think of as hunger pangs is really a cry for more water.
About the Author
Lisa Wainwright is a Pilate’s instructor based in Laredo, Texas. She also runs her own daycare center, and has been quite instrumental in writing and discussing about the feeding and behavioral habits of pre-school children.