Common Ways Parents Confuse Toddlers With Their Own Behavior

Parents want to teach their toddlers the rules of how to be respectful to others. Sometimes those methods can actually backfire, however, this is because parents may tell their toddlers to do one thing while their behavior is completely opposite of what that ask is. And due to toddlers learning by example versus what they are told to do, this can be confusing. A confusion that can lead to perceived misbehavior when in reality, toddlers are just mirroring what they see their parents do.



Toddlers learn behavior best when they are both asked to do something and witness their parents practice that behavior. Confusion comes when parents practice the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to parenting. It is not only a parenting style that can lead to the opposite behavior parents want, but behavior that is hard to change. As such, practicing what parents preach is a much better tactic when trying to instill good behavior in toddlers. And much less confusing to boot.

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Here are common ways that parents confuse toddlers with their own behavior.

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10 Changing Screen Time Rules

There are days when parents have a lot to do and find it easiest to put their toddlers in front of a screen for a while to hold their attention. As such, toddlers think that they should be able to be on screens when they like. So, when parents tell them “no,” it can be confusing.

By having straightforward times that toddlers are allowed on screens, there is no confusion about when television, tablets, or the like can be used. Toddlers may not like being told “no” but they at least recognize there are times when screens can be used. Something that makes for no confusion.

9 Giving Empty Threats

Empty threats are a way to not only confuse toddlers but also make them recognize that when parents say they are going to have consequences there usually are not any. And this can be confusing when discipline does not materialize.

If parents are going to make a threat of consequences, they need to follow through. This will keep their authority intact and let toddlers know that if they do not do as asked, there will be appropriate consequences.

8 Providing Empty Bribes

Bribbing toddlers to do things or have a particular behavior and then not following through on those bribes will make toddlers not trust parents. And when trust is gone it is hard to rebuild it.

Empty bribes may work a time or two on toddlers. But, when they do not receive anything for doing what was asked, there is no incentive to behave when asked. As such, toddlers will do what they like and may even have worse behavior when empty bribes are consistently presented.

7 Expecting Respect But Not Showing It

If parents want to get respect from their toddlers, they need to provide the same to them. After all, regardless of age, if respect is not consistent on one side of the relationship, it will not be given on the other.

According to Villa di Montessoriwhen respect is given to toddlers, there is trust built. The trust allows toddlers to see that they are valued. And because of this, toddlers will begin to mirror the same behavior back to their parents.

6 Lying While Telling Toddlers To Be Truthful

Toddlers may begin to lie around the age of two years of ageaccording to Scholastic. The reasons that they lie vary. But, regardless of whether they are told to stop lying or not, if they witness their parents lying, the behavior will continue.

It does not matter if white lies or big whoppers are told. If toddlers witness what is being said to another individual by their parents as something that is not the truth, they will begin to believe that is proper behavior.

When this happens, toddlers will lie more. And as a result, it can become hard to know when toddlers are lying or when they are being truthful.

5 Tell Toddlers To Be Active But Not Be Active With Them

Staying active is healthy for all members of the family. But when toddlers are told to burn off some energy and parents are unwilling to participate, there is no motivation to do so.

By being active, toddlers will see that it is just a normal part of daily life. As such, parents may not even have to tell their toddlers to go outside and run around as it has become a learned behavior. A behavior that will be hard to teach if all parents do is sit on the sofa and watch television.

4 Expecting Toddlers Not To Yell When Yelling At Spouse

For spouses that communicate by yelling, toddlers will witness the behavior and see it as normal. As such, when they yell and are told not to, confusion will ensue.

According to Healthlinewhen parents yell, it makes kids more prone to aggression, anxiety, and depression. As such, when communicating with a spouse or toddlers, yelling should not be done. It only confuses toddlers and perhaps frightens them, all while teaching them a behavior parents do not want them to do.


3 Telling Toddlers Not To Hit But Parents Spank Them

Spanking is a hot-button topic of conversation. Some parents wear by it, while others call it abuse. Regardless of which side of the coin parents fall on, what is true is that telling toddlers not to hit but spanking them confuses them about hitting.

According to Parentingwhen trying to teach toddlers not to hit, spanking them only reinforces that being physical with hands is the way to resolve situations. And because parents do not want their toddlers to hit, they may want to reconsider spanking as a form of punishment.

2 Interrupting Toddlers When They Talk

Teaching toddlers not to interrupt is a process that can last into later childhood years. And a surefire way to make teaching the lesson to not interrupt longer than it needs to take is to interrupt toddlers as they speak.

To instill that waiting to speak until someone is done is polite, parents should not interrupt toddlers when they talk. Instead, they should let toddlers complete their thoughts before saying what they need to say. Something that may be difficult to do but necessary nonetheless.

1 Expecting Toddlers To Listen But Not Listening To Them

Parents want their toddlers to pay attention to them when they speak. But if they do not listen when toddlers speak to them, toddlers have no incentive to do what is asked of them.

By listening to toddlers when they speak, parents are showing respect to toddlers by giving them their full attention. A Behavior that when modeled consistently, will teach toddlers to do the same.

Source: Villa di Montessori, Scholastic, Parenting, Healthline

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