8 annoying but important toddler habits

Your tot’s irritating behaviour may push your buttons, but guess what, they are great for her development!

Parenting a toddler isn’t a task for the faint-hearted. When they are not embarrassing you in public with their filter-free mouths (“look mummy, the fat man is eating a big pizza!”), they are giving you a massive headache with their noisy ― and often dangerous ― antics. Take your eyes off your little fella for a split second and she’s ready to leap off the dining table!

Then there are those precious few moments when they are as quiet as church mice and you’re just about to rest your eyes when… Wait a min… Why are they so quiet? What are they up to!? Did #1 lock #2 in the storeroom again?

Yes, toddlerhood can be a tumultuous time, but it’s also a time when your young ’un is learning more about the world and himself. Take a closer look at why she’s behaving the way she does and you’ll realise it’s actually all part of a healthy development cycle. The next time junior is driving you up the wall with any of these antics, console yourself because you know that it’s all for the greater good!

ANNOYING HABIT #1: Playing with food
You’ve slaved to prepare a well-balanced, scrumptious meal, only to have your tot refuse it, turn it into modern art or use it to initiate a food fight with her siblings. How frustrating!
WHY IT’S GREAT FOR JUNIOR It’s a learning process. When your tyke is squishing peas in between her chubby fingers, smearing gravy on her face or licking the bowl of fruit purée with her tongue (and nose!), she is experimenting with texture, smell and, of course, taste. When she drops or throws food, she is learning more about gravity. In fact, one study even concluded that toddlers who played with food learnt the words associated with those foods faster.
HOW TO REMAIN SANE Place a huge, washable plastic mat below junior’s high chair, so she can make all the mess she wants. All you have to do is carry the mat to the bathroom and hose it down. If you’re dining out, opt for alfresco seating, so that you don’t keep apologising to the wait staff for the mess. And carry lots of wet wipes at all times!

ANNOYING HABIT #2: Making a mess
If she could, your tyke would make a mess every hour of every day. Splashing water in the sink or during a shower, finger painting, sand play, scribbling on the walls with crayons and jumping into puddles ― these are just a few of what ranks high in a toddler’s daily to-do list. It’s what drives a parent crazy, too, especially if you’re a clean freak.
WHY IT’S GREAT FOR JUNIOR It’s great sensory play that engages all of junior’s senses and encourages her to be creative and think out of box, since messy play follows no rules. Plus, getting her hands into everything also hones her motor skills. 
HOW TO REMAIN SANE Resist the urge to constantly pick up after your peewee. Let her accumulate dirt until it’s time to shower. Come to terms with the fact that your once white couch is never going to reclaim its pristine beauty. Look the other way if possible. If you’re unable to do any of the above, encourage more outdoor play ― she can make as much of a mess as she wants!

When your tyke is squishing peas in between her chubby fingers…or licking the bowl of fruit purée with her tongue (and nose!), she is experimenting with texture, smell and, of course, taste.

ANNOYING HABIT #3: Reading the same books over and over again
“It’s the only part of my toddler’s bedtime routine that I don’t look forward to,” laments mum-of-one Rebecca Lim. “I would rather drill through my eyeballs than read The Gruffalo or Peppa Pig’s Class Trip one more time!” Admit it ― repetitive reading can be boring and you’ve probably tried to hide junior’s favourite book a few times, only to have her fish it out expertly from your secret hiding place (darn it!). 
WHY IT’S GREAT FOR JUNIOR Reading boosts your early-learner’s vocabulary. The more times she reads (or is being read) the same text, the more familiar she gets with the words. Also, language is more than just words, it’s also about enuciation and being fluent ― things your tyke picks up when she hears you reading familiar text over and over again. 
HOW TO REMAIN SANE Remind yourself of all these benefits the next time you want to rip out your hair. And maybe, include new books in the mix?

ANNOYING HABIT #4: Repetitive behaviour
While we’re still on the topic of repetition, how mind-numbing are those constant “why?” or “what’s this?” questions? Or wanting to do the same things over and over again? “I give myself a mental kick in the behind every time I start a new game with Simon, even if it’s something as simple as picking him up and throwing him in the air,” admits dad Terrence Chan. “He will want to do it again and again and again. I nearly threw my back out once!”
WHY IT’S GREAT FOR JUNIOR Little ones thrive on routine and repetition. It gives them a sense of security knowing what’s coming next. Doing the same thing over and over again also helps your kiddo to retain information and sharpens her memory skills.
HOW TO REMAIN SANE Give your tyke a heads up that you will only do it three more times. Then remind her that she has only two more to go and that the last one is coming up. This gives her enough time to prepare herself on how to handle the end of an activity or the number of times you’ll answer her questions. It’s a great way to prevent meltdowns.

Five more maddening tot behaviours that’ll benefit your little one, coming right up!