Creative Child

4 Behavior Strategies for Toddler Troubles That Work!

by Brittany Ferrell

My Bachelor’s degree is in Psychology and when I was going to school behaviorism was all the rage. B.F. Skinner was our guru and he taught us that in order to understand behavior, you must look at the causes and the consequences. I honestly did not think I would ever apply my knowledge of Skinner and his practices…until I became the parent of a toddler.


I really cannot complain. My daughter is sweet, funny, and all-around good-natured. She is also nineteen months old and curious, too clever for her own good, and struggling to find her independence. I want her to be inquisitive and investigate her environment. I want her to be creative, use her imagination, and make messes.

I do not want her to injure herself in the process. I learned that just telling her “no” does not work. In fact, she thinks my mere utterance of the word “no” is nothing short of hilarious.

To prevent my daughter from injuring herself or others, I turned to my old pal, Skinner, and found some behavior modification strategies that actually work!

1. Assess Your Child’s Basic Needs:

I know this probably goes without saying, but when your child is having a meltdown, do a quick assessment of their basic needs. Is she hungry, thirsty, tired, hot, cold, sick, or in pain?

There have been occasions when my daughter has been doing her hungry cry and I think, “She can’t be hungry. She just ate.” I have learned that those tiny tummies have a clock all of their own and even if she just ate recently, she may actually be hungry again!

Sometimes she is not hungry; so much as she just needs to chew on something. I do not remember my own teething experience, but my daughter claims it is pretty miserable and to pass the ice chips, please. Try not to overlook a basic need as a potential cause for your child’s behavior. Doing a quick run down to eliminate a basic need as a cause for your child’s behavior may solve the problem the stop the meltdown instantaneously.

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Related Article: 10 Toddler Tips for Problem Behaviors

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