Best Books for Managing Toddler Behavior
As a mother of a toddler, I often find myself correcting behavior. Toddlers are not naturally civilized people, and their cognitive and emotional skills are limited. It is normal for a toddler to be unable to contain powerful emotions; to explode when their wishes are frustrated; and to insist on having their own way. Translated into day to day terms, it means that without guidance and supervision it is much more natural for a toddler to hit another child, grab toys, bite, and scream than it is for them to share, take turns say please, and wait patiently for something they want. It takes patience, repetition and time to help them learn to treat other people with kindness and gentleness.
Since my two-year-old daughter loves books, I went searching for some age-appropriate material that would help her learn the lessons I am trying to teach. Reading together is a time when we are both calm and feeling good, which makes it a great time for teaching and learning. When I went looking I found two amazing and useful series of books by author Elizabeth Verdick. Her first series “Best Behavior Series” covers topics such as “Teeth are not for Biting,” “Hands are not for Hitting,” and “Diapers are not Forever.” Her second series “Toddler Tools” covers topics such as “Sharing Time,” “Naptime,” “Calm Down Time,” and “Manners Time.” Between the two series there are 16 books that I have been able to find and two of the books (“Words are not for Hurting” and “Germs are not for Sharing”) are also available in Spanish. Both series are available in board book and kindle formats. Reading them on kindle requires a kindle fire, iPad or android platform application.
There are several things I love about these books. The first is that my daughter actually really likes them. She will pick them out of the selections on my kindle and ask me to read them over and over. The text is clear and simple and the pictures are colorful and engaging. The illustrator, Marieka Heinlein, does a beautiful job expressing emotions through her art and her work matches the text perfectly. My daughter will point to the pictures and ask questions about them and about what is happening on the page, so I know she is really engaged with the book. The illustrator uses children and teachers of multiple ethnicities which reflects the reality of the world we live in.
The second thing I love is that the books are very honest and accepting of intense toddler emotions. The biting book talks about reasons a toddler may want to bite before reminding “biting hurts!” and then suggesting different behaviors. The sharing book actually points out that a toddler may ask to share and be told “no!” by a peer; it then goes on to acknowledge that a toddler may want to yell or grab in that situation and suggests raising your hand to ask a grown-up for help instead. I think this is a key element, because I want my child to learn to manage intense feelings, particularly intense negative feelings. By explicitly acknowledging and accepting those feelings before suggesting strategies to cope these books provide a helping hand towards that goal.
The third thing I love about this series is the wide range of topics covered. Most of the problem behaviors I have experienced with my toddler have a book that addresses that behavior as a target. In addition to the child directed material in the book, each book includes a page of simple and practical tips for parents and caregivers at the end. This is a series of books that leaves me feeling empowered as a parent to do everything I can to help my daughter thrive in the world as a caring, kind human being.