What is "normal" toddler behavior? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-24-2010, 11:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So how exactly would you describe a "spirited toddler/child"?

I feel like a LOT of toddlers would be considered "spirited". Then I compare my DS to the children (toddlers) of my friends and wonder if he's spirited or if they just have REALLY low-key, quiet kids.

Cain is a happy kid. He is funny and enjoyable to be around. His behavior is what DH and I would consider "normal" toddler behavior. We get mixed reactions from friends though. It leaves me wondering...

He is loud. He yells when he's upset and when he's happy/having a good time. Sometimes he just yells for fun. He also talks a lot and is very dramatic.
He also runs around like a maniac. He's "busy". He loves to climb, leap, jump, dance, swing and RUN. He will often mix his two favorite hobbies: Running and yelling.
He does not sit still. If he does sit still it's because he is either REALLY hungry and decided to eat or he's tired and preparing to nap. We cannot really take him out to eat anywhere. He won't sit long enough.
He really just loves to DO stuff. Throw things, tear things down, put things together, explore boxes full of stuff..etc.

His tantrums seem developmentally appropriate to me. He is sometimes inconsolable and is best left alone to let it out and then he's fine. Other times he likes us to sit with him and have a kind of "time out" to calm down and take a moment to just decompress.
He tantrums about the typical toddler injustices: cannot do what he wants, cannot have everything he wants or something just won't work right. On his bad days he throws fits because nothing in the universe is right...or that's what it seems like at least. This doesn't bother me...I figure he has bad days or off days just like anyone else. Sometimes you just feel grumpy, right? He is not verbal enough at this point to express big feelings so he does it the only way he knows how. Or am I wrong?

We often get "the look" from other parents and friends who are parents. I know they're thinking he is totally out of control because he doesn't listen and makes it very clear when he is unhappy.
I chalk it up to major differences in how we handle his tantrums and how we discipline. Everyone we know utilizes spanking, hand smacking and time outs. I know they think we are doing our children a disservice by not spanking and using time outs.
Whenever a fellow parent/friend has a toddler who is throwing a tantrum they are spanked or spanking is threatened and they are sent to time out.

Just to be clear, "time out" in this instance means they are put in a chair or sat in the same spot for X amount of minutes. Nothing is discussed during this time or afterward with the child.
We do something that we call "time out" but it's more of a time out from the situation so DS can calm down and everyone gets a break for a minute. We talk to him as well about whatever happened.

I guess another big difference is how tantrums are viewed. DH and I believe what I said earlier. He is trying to express pretty big feelings and doesn't have the words or developmental capacity to really do so. So he is doing it in a developmentally appropriate manner.
Most of our parent friends see tantrums as something 'bad'. They have to be nipped in the bud and put to a stop because "throwing a fit is unacceptable". They believe their child needs to be taught to not throw a tantrum. I'm unsure of what sort of alternative routes they expect their children to express themselves with in these situations.

Recently I've been pretty overwhelmed with DS. I am 5 weeks postpartum so I think this has a LOT to do with my feelings. I have a 5 week old and a 2 year old so it's HARD. Then of course, he is adjusting as well. He seems to be doing okay. I spend a lot of time in the evenings when DH is at work just protecting Lucca (DD) from her brother. For the most part though he loves to "help" with her, always checks on her and wants very badly to include her in games that he plays. He enjoys holding her and talking to her as well.

I guess I'm wondering if DS is "spirited" or just a normal toddler and everyone around us have low-key toddlers. Everyone seems to think DS IS spirited but I'm really not sure. I think he's a normal 2 year old boy who is now adjusting to a major change in his life.

I'm not really sure what my questions are. I just feel a bit alone at times when others seem to be able to take their toddlers anywhere and everywhere or have a child who rarely throws tantrums or does anything that needs to be addressed. I love my friends but it's hard to explain to them why we can't take Cain out at a certain time because he hasn't napped yet or simply cannot sit still or keep his voice at an appropriate level for certain places.

Maybe I just need encouragement or some commiseration and shared stories. I'm just feeling stressed lately and a bit angered that others think DS is out of control and 'bad' for behaving in what I consider a normal toddler way.

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Mama to DS [05/21/08] & DD [09/16/10] 43 weeks 1 day!
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#2 of 4 Old 10-24-2010, 11:59 PM
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i teach toddlers and i don't think there is such a thing as a "normal" one. they are pretty much all little weirdos. seriously, sometimes at work i think i got locked into some sort of insane asylum for small people.

the question is really "what type of weird are they?"

i have a kid in my class that sounds alot like yours. totally normal. on the other end of the spectrum i have one who is so "mellow" (ok...lazy) that he pretends that he can't climb stairs or get down from stools and just whines, doesn't move. normal. i've got hitters. normal. i've got a screamer. normal. i've had a couple that have done things with poop that nobody should have to see. normal.

of course MY kid is perfectly behaved.

Reluctant 'Sconie, chassid and mama to sweet toughie Ada Bluma 9/9/09 and loving pittie-mix ("Judge the deed, not the breed!")
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#3 of 4 Old 10-25-2010, 08:26 AM
 
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I'd say he sounds a little more on the "spirited" side, but still very normal. He sounds like a very active, bright, determined little boy. And it also sounds like you are doing great with accepting and nurturing his personality. You have such a great perspective, and seem to be handling things really well.

Congrats on the new baby!

Catie belly.gif- Happy wife to Aaron stillheart.gif(01.05), mama to Liambikenew.gif(08.08), and Ian jammin.gif (11.10)! homebirth.jpgnocirc.giffamilybed1.gif and joy.gif due Feb 2013 with blessing #3!

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#4 of 4 Old 10-25-2010, 08:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzs View Post
i teach toddlers and i don't think there is such a thing as a "normal" one. they are pretty much all little weirdos. seriously, sometimes at work i think i got locked into some sort of insane asylum for small people.

the question is really "what type of weird are they?"

i have a kid in my class that sounds alot like yours. totally normal. on the other end of the spectrum i have one who is so "mellow" (ok...lazy) that he pretends that he can't climb stairs or get down from stools and just whines, doesn't move. normal. i've got hitters. normal. i've got a screamer. normal. i've had a couple that have done things with poop that nobody should have to see. normal.

of course MY kid is perfectly behaved.
I just wanted to say that i love your summation of toddlers! Too cute

Mama to one 2 yr. old tornado banana.gif
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