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Age matters when it comes to children’s behaviors

Age is a big factor when dealing with children and their behaviors. Young children are learning how to interact with each other and with adults. They learn how to do this by watching the interactions of the people in their lives. If they are yelled at and treated disrespectfully then chance are that is how they will behave. If they see adults being disrespectful to each other than the child will pick up on that as well. Different age groups are able to understand and work on different skills.

Children need your guidance
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Infants and Toddlers- Infants and Toddlers are just starting to watch and observe the world around them. They are still very self-centered at this age. Everything in their world is about them. If they don’t get what they want, when they want it, than they will do what they feel they need to, to get it. At the same time if your infant hits you, it isn’t an acceptable behavior, you still need to address the behavior. You should correct them, tell them “nice touches” and show them what that means. Take their little hand and move it gently over the spot that they just hit. As toddlers get older they start vocalizing and show more personality. Make sure that those little personalities are being molded in a positive way. When correcting a behavior you are teaching them the right way to behavior it shouldn’t be done in a mean way.

Two’s- Two year olds are known for their attitudes and not in a good way. They are just learning how to flex their independence muscle. They are professional fits throwers. This is the time where they are really start pushing to find out where their boundaries are. Dealing with a child this age can be very challenging.

This is a good time to start setting firmer guidelines of what is acceptable behavior. Remember you are the adult and the one in charge not the child. Giving in when they continue to throw a fit only gives them the idea that if they continue to bug you or throw a fit they still get what they want even though you said no. As hard as it may be you need to stay firm on your decision or they will push on everything to see if you will give in.

This is also the age where they really start using their favorite word “NO.” Learning that it is not okay to talk to adults in such a way can be a challenge. Stating “Don’t talk to me that way” or “use nice words” in a firm tone every time they tell you “no” is a good start to laying down that guideline. Give them other word to say to you that are acceptable will also help.

Preschoolers- This age group includes 3-5 year olds. Their independence muscles are getting stronger. They like and can do more and more things on their own. This doesn’t mean you give them the free reign to do whatever it is they want to do. They need to know that you are there to stop them from doing things they shouldn’t, that doesn’t mean they won’t try. They will push their limits sometimes harder than a two year old will. They are learning more about the world around them and are trying different things out. They hear another child telling someone to “shut up” then they may try it to see what happens. Even if the words hit a nerve with you don’t show that to your child. They will pick up on it and any time they want to get under your skin they will pull out those words and dust them off just for you. Be calm but firm when letting them know that is not an acceptable way to speak to you.

When dealing with behaviors it’s important to remember you are the adult. You’re the one in charge, be calm, be firm, and be consistent. It is very important to think of the child’s age when dealing with behaviors. Treating an infant as if they have the understanding of a preschooler isn’t fair for the child and it sets you both up for frustration and fighting. At the same time treating a preschooler or school age child as if they have the understanding of an infant is demeaning and the will most likely not listen to you, which will cause even more issues.

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