The toddler stage of development is filled with exciting milestones. Your child is learning to speak and is starting to use words to try to tell you what she is thinking. However, toddlers do not yet have the verbal skills to express complex thoughts and still heavily rely upon body language to communicate. Many toddler behaviors that seem odd are an effort to communicate thoughts and emotions.
My toddler likes to run around naked
If your toddler starts undressing and running around without clothes on, she may be expressing that she is excited about mastering the skill of undressing herself. She also may be using undressing herself as a way to assert her independence. After all, she now has control over her clothing. Unfortunately, she probably does not yet understand that it is not appropriate to undress in public. It may help to give her a choice between two outfits in the morning. This gives her a sense of control over her clothing and may decrease the need for her to assert her independence by taking her clothes off.
If your child is taking her clothes and diaper off immediately after filling her diaper, she may be trying to tell you that she is ready to start wearing underwear and begin potty training.
My toddler hides in the corner to dirty her diaper
If your toddler hides when she is about to poop in her diaper, she may be trying to tell you she is ready to begin potty training. She recognizes what it feels like to need to poop and prefers to have privacy. However, if you have already tried to start potty training your toddler and she goes and hides to poop, she may be avoiding using the potty. Maybe she is afraid of ‘falling in’ the potty or perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed by pressure from her family to potty train. In this case, your toddler may be sending you a message that she needs to take a step back from potty training for now.
My toddler sometimes, suddenly hits or bites
When your toddler seems to be doing fine but then suddenly hits or bites, evaluate your toddler’s environment and try to determine what may have triggered a strong emotion. Since she does not have the verbal skills to express her strong emotions, your toddler is using hitting or biting to express that she is stressed or tired. She is asking you to help her calm down.
Do not react strongly to your toddler’s outburst. Instead, calmly restrain your child to keep her from hitting again and remove her from the situation. In a quiet voice, remind her that even though she is upset, she should not hit because it hurts. If you were able to identify the trigger for the strong emotion, use that information to help you avoid similar situations in the future. For example, allow extra time for the transition the next time you leave your toddler at the babysitter’s house.
My toddler covers her ears with her hands
When your toddler covers her ears with her hands, she is not necessarily trying to defy you. Instead, she could be trying to tell she is frightened or is overstimulated. A toddler’s hearing is more sensitive than that of adults. There is also a chance that she may have an issue with her ears, such as an ear infection. Talk to your toddler’s pediatrician if you have concerns about your toddler’s ears or an extreme sensitivity to sound.