Birth - Age 3 Behavior

How can I help my child at home?


Have a consistent routine
Routines help a baby learn self-control because they begin to feel that they can predict what is happening next. The safety and security that the baby feels is because they form the trust that their caregiver will provide for them what they need consistently. This then supports the child towards more positive behaviors because they know what is expected from the day and what goals to work towards.

Your baby begins to cry. Your mind immediately begins going through a checklist on what could be causing her to be upset. Then you look at the time and notice that it is noon. This is typically your child's time for lunch and then naptime. As you place your baby in the highchair and get the baby food around, your baby quiets down as she now knows what is coming next.


Provide your baby with responsive care
Responsive care means matching your caregiving to what your baby needs. Take a moment to think about what your child may need or is feeling, then think of ways that you can help them. You can support your child in responsive care by knowing your child's likes and dislikes, what positive coping strategies work, and what kind of daily routine works for them. Also, having an open and collaborative relationship with your child's other caregivers that allows for the sharing of information. This will support the formation of a more positive relationship between the secondary caregiver and your child and, therefore, more positive experiences for your child throughout the day. 

18 month old Raya does not feel well. Her ears are hurting and she cannot seem to find anything that comforts her other than being held by her dad. Dad has reviewed all of the things that could be wrong and nothing seems to help. He has noticed that Raya keeps grabbing at her ears and wonders if it is an ear infection. He holds Raya and rubs her back as he coo's to her, "Are your ears hurting? That sounds really painful. Let's get you to the doctor."


Be affectionate and nurturing
Providing your baby with warm touches, rocking, hugs, words, and singing will support your child into feeling loved and safe. This is much easier to do when your baby is in a good mood and are cute and cuddly but it is just as important to nurture your baby when they are difficult, crying, or colic. During these difficult times, your child then begins to believe that they are loved no matter what. This belief helps limit negative behaviors later in life.

Alex is 8 months old. His grandmother is currently rocking him and humming the same song that she sings him when it is time for a nap. He feels safe with his grandmother watching over him and knows that she will be there if he needs her. As he continues to feel secure in this relationship, his eyelids become too heavy to keep open. Eventually, he falls asleep still smelling his grandmother's perfume, hearing her soft humming, and feeling her cocoon his body as they rock.


Model self-control
Older toddlers are beginning to experience new feelings such as pride, shame, guilt, and embarrassment for the first time. Older toddlers are a lot like teenagers. Their feelings may swing wildly from moment to moment. They may be joyful when getting a popsicle and then upset when it drips on their hands. Toddlers need guidance to figure out how to cope with their emotions.

When you see a challenging behavior, it usually means that your toddler cannot figure out how to express her feelings in an acceptable way or they do not know how to get a need met. What helps your child learn is when your response shows her a different, more constructive way to handle these feelings.


Responding to biting
Many toddlers and young children bite. Developmentally, most toddlers do not have enough words to express how they are feeling. They primarily rely on sounds and actions to communicate what they are thinking and feeling. Biting is one of the ways toddlers express their needs, desires, of feelings.

Young children bite for many different reasons. Understanding why your toddler might be biting is the first step in reducing or stopping the behavior. The following are some of the reasons young children bite

  • Frustration
  • Managing strong feelings
  • Cause and effect (the reaction)
  • Copying the behavior of others
  • Teething needs/sensory needs

While biting is a typical behavior for young children, that does not mean it is acceptable.