7 weird toddler behaviors (that are actually normal)Toddlers can be demanding and unrelenting. And if you have one, you know they’re also kind of strange.
Doorknob licking and barking like a dog are commonplace. But these freaky behaviors do pass. “The vast majority of strange toddler behaviors are short-lived phases,” says Heather Wittenberg, PsyD, psychologist and author of "Let’s Get This Potty Started! The BabyShrink’s Guide to Potty Training Your Toddler"
Rhythmic, repetitive motion helps calm an overstimulated nervous system, Wittenberg explains. And while you’d think that means just rocking or riding in a car, head banging qualifies.
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“What looks disturbing to us can be very soothing to a child,” she says. Unless your kid is hurting himself or would rather bang his head than socialize, eat or play, just ignore it. “When your child gets a reaction out of you for something he’s done, he realizes there’s a big red button he can push when he needs attention,” Wittenberg explains. Suggest a replacement activity (“Try rubbing your bunny’s ears when you get tired”) to redirect the behavior.
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Hands in the pants
And you thought you wouldn’t have to worry about this until puberty! But self-fondling is another habit that isn’t considered a problem unless your child chooses to do it over, say, playing with the kid next door or eating ice cream. Wittenberg says not to say no to it but to give guidelines: “You can do this alone in your room, but you can’t do it in the store or at school.” And give him interesting things to do to keep him from being bored.
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We know a mom whose daughter picks fuzzies off the couch and eats them -- like a delicious snack! Wittenberg explains that kids use their mouths as tools for exploring the world. “They may be experimenting, or there may be some oral needs or a nutritional deficiency going on.” At the end of the day, it comes down to severity and frequency. So once-in-a-while weird cravings can be brushed off, but if your child is obsessed with eating, say, dirt or cat litter, it’s time to talk to the pediatrician.
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