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How do I know when I should correct my toddler's behavior?

David Herz, MD
Pediatrics
It's not unusual for parents to spring into action whenever they catch their toddler doing something she shouldn't. Naturally, a parent's first thought is to keep her child safe. But correcting every single thing a child does wrong makes it difficult to create a loving bond. The key is knowing how to assess a behavior before correcting it.

Ask yourself if your child's action is creating a safety issue. For instance, is she running into the street or playing with matches? In these cases, you certainly want to correct the behavior immediately. On the other hand, relatively benign behaviors, like pulling books off a bottom shelf, might be worth letting go. Sometimes toddlers act out to seek attention. If you suspect that's the case with your child, she may need more attention and positive engagement. Be on the lookout to "catch" your child when she does something right and give her lots of praise. Steady praise will give your child the attention she seeks – and could help reduce her inclinations to misbehave.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.