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Self-soothing behavioral patterns in toddlers make them look cute at times and strange at others. It’s true that such repetitive behavior in toddlers can leave parents in a quandary. However, fussing too much on this behavior wouldn’t do any good.
Toddlers can at times display certain behavioural patterns that can best be termed as ‘strange’ or ‘unusual’. This could include anything from your 16-month-old digging her nose in public to your tot insisting on drinking water from the sink. Although, most times ignorance is best other times you need to be a bit cautious. Let’s decode this behaviour to soothe your confusion.
A Guide to Repetitive Behaviour in Toddlers
1. What is a Common Repetitive Behaviour in a 16-months-old?
Toddlers who insist on wearing the same coloured clothes, eat messily with hands, or snort loudly publicly are grappling with the signs of negative repetitive behaviour. They are likely to throw tantrums every now and then. Such kids usually showcase odd self-soothing behavioural patterns at bedtime or naptime. Things like tugging on hair, banging their heads on the wall, shaking legs violently, etc. are common behaviour too.
2. Reason for Toddler Self-soothing Behaviours
There are many reasons behind toddlers indulging in this kind of repetitive behaviour. As per therapists, lack of attention from care givers and parents may instigate them to create cuddles, hugs, and other physical touches to calm themselves. Repetitive behaviour also helps a child diffuse extra energy and stress. It also helps the child fight off boredom. These are also present during a child’s developmental phase(like teething or potty training) or during some stressful transition(new playschool, new sibling). However, in some cases, this behaviour could be a sign of deeper, underlying issues such as ADD-ADHD, disabilities, or even autism.
3. The Best Way to Handle it
Of all the toddler milestones, repetitive behaviour is one that requires it being not given attention to. Trying to force the child to stop or drawing your child’s attention to such behaviour will only escalate the behaviour. If you choose to ignore it, in time the behaviour will vanish away. It’s usually around the age of 3 or 4years that a toddler will go back to behaving normally. Thank god for that.
4. Ways to Minimise This Behaviour
In case, the child tries to harm himself by banging his head or pulling his or your hair roughly then it becomes imperative for you to step in. Pad the area where your child bangs his head the most, suggest the child to twist or pull a doll’s hair instead, and make sure to offer a volley of kisses and hugs to your baby throughout it all. If your child is big enough to talk, do inquire about his feelings. However, if you see your child withdrawing in any way or spending a lot of time alone, then this behaviour could warrant a visit to a mental health care provider.
With these facts in your parenting arsenal, it’ll be easy for you to decipher between a normal repetitive behaviour and one that need’s medical attention.