Do your expectations for your child’s behavior match his/her age and stage of development?
Expecting more from children than they are capable of can lead to lots of frustration for both parents and children. Research reveals that a majority of parents believe children start developing self-control much earlier than brain science tells us is possible. More than half (56%) of parents believe children have the impulse control to resist the desire to do something forbidden before age 3. And 36% believe that children under age 2 have this kind of self-control. And almost half (42%) believe children can control their emotions, by 2 years of age. In fact, these skills start developing between 3.5 and 4 years, and take many more years to be used consistently.
Keep in mind: Young children are driven by emotions and not logic. Irrational behavior is totally “typical” for preschoolers.
Having appropriate expectations is critical because the meaning you assign to a child’s behavior influences how you react. If you think your child is purposefully breaking rules, you are much more likely to react in harsh ways that escalate, instead of calm way. If you see these behaviors in the context of normal development, you are more likely to approach your child with empathy and appreciate these moments as opportunities to teach good coping skills.
Here is a great resource that walks through 6 common behavior challenges and how to handle them with appropriate expectation and positive discipline strategies: