How to Manage a Spirited Toddler's Personality: 7 Steps
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Tame the wild beast -- manage your spirited toddler's personality.

Spirited, wild, high-strung, strong willed, demanding -- regardless of what word you use, you know your toddler is different than other kids his age. He always goes 110 miles per hour, his highs are off the chart and so are his lows. You know his spirited personality will pay off later when he goes after whatever he wants, but what can you do now? It’s important to realize that you aren’t controlling your toddler’s personality, rather you’re managing it.


  1. 1
    Get outside and play -- a lot! Spirited toddlers have energy to burn, and you won’t get rid of that energy sitting inside reading books. Go for walks, go to the park, go to indoor playgrounds, go to the zoo, play tag -- keep them active as much as possible.
  2. 2
    Set up rules. Spirited toddlers need structure through their day to keep them safe when they’re going full speed ahead. Rules such as holding your hand while you’re out walking, waiting at corners, taking breaks, not pushing other kids and coming when you call are a good start to make sure your toddler is safe.
  3. 3
    Set up your home in a way where you don’t always have to tell her “no.” This means remove objects she shouldn’t play with from her line of vision. You can keep some "no-no" objects out, but surround her mostly with items that are okay to touch. This allows her to operate within her own controls, rather than trying to rebel every time you tell her “no.” She sees some things she shouldn't touch, but it's not an overwhelming amount.
  4. 4
    Reward positive behavior, either with a material reward such as a small treat or with positive praise. Toddlers are likely to repeat actions that garner a reward. For example, if your son spends a day at the park with you, listens well and obeys your requests, you might say, “You were such a big boy at the park today. Mommy is so proud of you! You can pick an extra book at bedtime.”
  5. 5
    Plan a daily routine and stay consistent with it. Spirited toddlers are not easygoing children. They do best when they know what is going to happen next. If there is going to be a change in the routine, such as a doctor’s appointment or errands, tell your toddler ahead of time. Tell your toddler at the beginning of the day that you have a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. Remind her the two of you will be going to an appointment about 15 minutes before you go and then again at five minutes.
  6. 6
    Give your toddler choices. Offer him two options for breakfast and let him choose which one he wants. This gives him a sense of control.
  7. 7
    Remain calm when your toddler gets upset. Getting upset yourself feeds into the situation. If she’s doing something she shouldn’t, stop the behavior with a quick explanation. You might say, “You may not jump on the furniture. You’ll get hurt.” If that doesn’t work, remove her from the situation.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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