9 No Good, Very Bad Toddler Habits

Is it even possible for chunky little toddlers that plant tiny kisses on our cheeks to develop bad habits?

They squeeze us oh-so-tight and look in absolute wonder as a butterfly softly lands on a blooming flower.

Despite absolute cuteness and sweet innocence, they’re still people — just in a smaller, cuter form.

I needed to read this! It helped me see my toddler's bad habits and gave me ideas on how to stop them! #Parenting #motherhood #raisingtoddlers #toddlermom #teachingtoddlers

And people?

Well, we mess-up.

A lot.

And sometimes we needs someone to come and guide us through our mess-ups.

Someone who knows us.

Loves us.

And has some life wisdom to offer.

And that’s exactly where mommy and daddy come in!

There are some no good, very bad toddler habits that we as moms need to watch out for — and break — before it’s too late.

bad habits in toddler

With my first child, I was oblivious to these toddler habits.

I was a brand new, very young mom and had a lot to learn.

Here’s how my awakening to bad habits in toddlers came about:

I had been in a conversation with a few friends at church, said good-bye and walked to the car with my husband.

“We need to talk about Joshua,” my husband stated.

Hmmm….why would we need to talk about our adorable toddler?

“Ok, sure. Let’s talk.” I replied with confusion.

We had a 20 minute drive, so there was lots of time to talk.

“Some friends noticed some negative behavior in Joshua tonight,” my husband began.

Really? My kid?

I sat in silence with my thoughts.

“For instance, as you were having a conversation with someone, Joshua constantly grabbed your glasses off of your face — and you let him.”

Hmmm…oh, yeah. I remember that.

“And, when you chat with someone, he constantly interrupts…and you always answer him — immediately.

Yeah, I do that too. But, is that so bad?

no good very bad habits in toddlers

“Our friends just wanted to help and said that they would recommend teaching him to respect other people’s things and conversations — even as a toddler. What do you think?” my husband glanced at me for a reply.

Wow, I never thought of those things.

Everyone called my son good because he never hits, bites and rarely throws temper tantrums…but, wow those were undesirable traits.

But my son was oblivious that this behavior wasn’t acceptable.

I had never taught him it wasn’t!

Honestly, at first I was offended.

Do you ever respond that way too?

A well-meaning friend, relative or even stranger tries to give you a little bit of advice, and immediately you act like a wounded kitty-cat.

You retreat to a corner and hiss and claw at anyone that comes your way.

I wanted to defend myself because I thought my mothering skills were being “judged” ever-so-critically.

But after a few minutes of calming down and really considering the source, I knew that our friends really had no motive except to see me excel at this motherhood thing.

They had been around the parenting bend and knew quite a bit more than me.

I was the novice.

I was just beginning to spread my wings as a mom.

And then I made a decision.

I was going to act on their advice and see what happened.

It didn’t take long to try it out.

In just a little bit, my son grabbed my necklace.

I looked him in the eye and firmly said, “No, this is mommy’s. You do not grab.”

Simple and to the point.

He looked shocked — and rightly so.

Until that moment, he was allowed to grab anything of mine without reproof — and now I was telling him no.

But, he immediately tried again.

“No, Joshua. You do not grab mommy’s glasses.”

I responded firmly and consistently…over, and over and over again.

It took days, weeks and even months to begin undoing those toddler habits that I had never addressed before.

However, as I consistently laid down the rules in a kind and firm way, my toddler gained some manners and finally stopped the bad habits.

That was a relief!

Sometimes with the busyness of our mommy days we tend to overlook negative behavior.

But then,thatnegative behavior becomes habitual.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the bad habits in order for us to reevalute our child’s behavior.

Take a few minutes and ponder this list to see if there are any bad habits in your toddler’s life that you can help change!

No Good, Very Bad Habits of Toddlers

  • Grabbing personal possessions. Each toddler is different. The most common items that toddlers are attracted to are jewelry, glasses, phones, keys, purses and diaper bags.

    Whichever items your toddler is attracted to will be the ones he’ll grab — over and over again.

    Sure toddlers are cute, and they are learning and exploring, but they need to learn there are boundaries.

    They simply cannot start digging in the woman’s purse beside you at the doctor’s office.

    Teach them to respect other people’s things are hands-off.


  • Interrupting adults. My kiddos love to talk. It seems someone is always chattering.

    Sometimes I have to say, “OK, no one talks for 15 minutes,” just so we can have a few moments of quiet time.

    I whole-heartedly encourage communication, but even toddlers can learn to wait their turn to talk.

    When my toddler interrupts, I put my finger to their lips and say, “Wait.”

    Keep it simple.

    Don’t being a long conversation with them or they will continue to interrupt — through their preschool and tween years.

    We are learning this interrupt rule right now, and my kids love it.

    It’s respectful for both mom and child!

  • Eating other people’s food. Have you ever been sitting at the table and had your muffin snatched by a toddler?

    Yep…happened to me!

    Sitting down to a family meal is a great teaching opportunity for table manners.

    During yourfamilymeals have yourchildpractice eating from his, and only his plate.

    If he’s allowed to grab food off your plate, then off dad’s, then off his sister’s, then why wouldn’t he grab food off a dinner guest’s plate?

    It’s not your toddler’s fault.

    He needs guidance.

    Teach your child — with patience and kindness — that the only food he can touch is the food on his very own plate.

    Simple, right?

  • Throwing items in the house. Watch out for flying blocks! Toddlers love to throw things, don’t they?

    I remember a family member who came to my house for a visit.

    She was in our house for about 15 minutes when her 18-month-old son started grabbing blocks and throwing them across the room.

    She looked at me and said, “He doesn’t understand.”

    She never attempted to tell him not to throw the blocks.

    Not even once.

    We finally had to go outside because of the risk of him damaging the house.

    Teaching our children that certain behavior is wrong and unacceptable is up to us.

    I do not expect a toddler to know that throwing blocks is unacceptable, unless his parents teach him that.

    Do you and your child a favor, and teach him that certain items are not for throwing.

    Try putting it this way:

    “Balls are for throwing, and other things are not.”

    Keeps it super simple!

  • Biting, hitting, pushing. In complete honesty, my kids are known for not being hitters and biters — and it’s not because they never did it.

    Hurting another person is one of the big “no-nos” in our house.

    Lying, disrespect, biting, hitting, pushing or stealing is definitely some of our major house rules that are immediately dealt with when broken.

    The very first time anyone of my kids intentionally hurts another person, they face consequences. Here are some creative consequences you can check out!

    I know it’s tiring to address this common toddler behavior, but if you consistently address it every single time, your child will realize there is no getting around it…and will eventually stop biting, hitting and pushing.

    Intentionally hurting someone else should be stopped early in life.

    I honestly believe that if you stop it in toddler-hood, you won’t have to constantly deal with a “trouble-maker” in the years to come!

  • Writing and drawing on walls. Every single one of my kids have done this, and it has been a nightmare.

    Can I be honest?

    With my youngest two kids I have slacked off in this area.

    I am sure anyone that has known me for the past 12 years would agree.

    I don’t know why, but I have.

    With my oldest four kids I was consistent to address the “writing on the wall” issues.

    I even had a rule, if they drew on a doll, I would take the doll away for a month.

    I know that may seem harsh, but after seeing doll after doll being ruined, I needed to take drastic measures.

    My older four kids stopped drawing on things early in their toddler years.

    My younger two?

    They just stopped six months ago — at age four and five.


    What was the difference?

    I was too tired or busy to address their behavior.

    Do you know what the result was?

    Ongoing, negative behavior until I buckled down and decided to once again, consistently address their bad habits.

    Then, and only then, the writing on walls and dolls stopped.

    Why is writing on walls considered a bad habit?

    It may seem small now, but children need to learn to take care of things…especially other people’s things.

    My husband and I pay for the house they’re living in.

    We invest time and money into creating a comfortable, attractive home.

    Though I don’t believe my toddlers — or yours — are malicious in their wall art, I do think we still need to encourage them to take care of property.

  • Pulling out items and not putting them away. There’s a simple phrase that someone told me and it goes like this: “If your child is old enough to pull out a toy, he is old enough to put it back.”

    Simple thought, but the message is loud and clear.

    These are honest, bad habits that some adults still make today!

    And they could have easily been broken in childhood.

    How do you break this bad habit?

    Just keep a closer eye on your toddler.

    When he is done playing with his matchbox cars or blocks, go over to him and say, “Now, it’s time to put away our toys!”

    Make cleaning fun, upbeat, but at the same time ensure your child is cleaning up his mess, and you’re not doing all the work.

    It’s a little lesson that will have a lifetime impact.

What no good, very bad toddler habits are your working on breaking this week?

Don’t worry, moms…your effort will pay off soon!

Don’t give up! Y

You’ll reap great rewards as you see your toddler develop into a well-mannered preschooler, tween and eventually teen.

Start teaching them good behavior — NOW!

If you loved that inspiration, we're sure you'll love these too!

14 thoughts on “9 No Good, Very Bad Toddler Habits”

  1. I’ve always struggled with finding appropriate discipline for hitting. Is saying “hitting hurts, please don’t hit” enough? Do you have any suggestions? How about talking back? Great post, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for this. I am a first time mom of a 12 month old, who just celebrated his first birthday this week. I am having a hard time discerning what he understands and what he doesn’t; therefore, it is hard to know where it is reasonable to set limits. It is helpful to know that “if the kid can take the toy off the shelf he can learn put it back.” (I think we’ll try to start teaching him how to clean up.) I just wish it was more clear cut in other areas…

  3. My little man is 7 months old and I am all for parenting advice! I can totally see myself being like you and not noticing the little bad behaviors that could soon turn into big bad behaviors. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. Danielle Barton

    Loved this post! Agree with every one – and i love the interrupt rule. LOVE IT!. I really would like to try that. The car would be the only issue… since they can’t reach me! :) Question about your last item… I have 5 kids… and the fact that one will go off and play alone is quite helpful at times when I’m juggling everything….. but the negative side – stuff is always out everywhere… and I don’t always see who-did-what. Any thoughts? Ideas?

  5. Love the post! An issue I’m having with my 3yr old is that he says “no” and “I don’t want to”, a lot. I’m not sure if he picked it up because I say it to him but, I don’t find it acceptable. I want to help him realize and differentiate that I don’t say “no” because I don’t want him doing things. What I’m trying to do is discipline him. He is very bright for his age and understands a lot more than people think. Any suggestions on how to reduce “no and “I don’t want to” from his daily vocabulary?

    1. I am a teacher and worked in childcare for many years. My 3 year old son very rarely says no, because we don’t say no to him. Instead of saying “no” or “stop that” focus on the behavior you DO want to see. For example, instead of NO running, say “walk please” or “we use our walking feet to be safe”. One phrase I use is “I don’t like….” So I might say, “I don’t like when you throw toys, that can hurt something” or “Oh! I don’t like those angry words. That makes me sad.” I also try to explain things as we, meaning our family “we don’t throw toys it hurts” or “we don’t say that word” or “lets put the toys away”. Another thing I have learned through my years with toddlers is if you are asking them to do something, many times they will say no. So don’t ask. Tell them gently. “Okay now you have to throw that away” “Oh don’t forget to pick up your jacket!” “Wait, you need to put your toys back in the bucket.”

      That was a lot. But hope it helps a little :-)

  6. I love this. I can relate. Parenting Is not easy. Mostly I have struggled with friends’ children. Same thing about throwing things in house or grabbing glass ornaments things that are off limits to my kids and then friends come over with their kids they are throwing and or touching glass; I am telling rules of our home. Somehow I feel like the jerk. Not at all sure what to do.

  7. I enjoyed reading your blog. I have been pretty good at curbing negative behavoir with my children in the past. However what do you do with negative behavior when it is not being reinforced with grandparents. It has been a trying task here lately.

  8. My first time reading your blog. Will definitely start enforcing these. I’m having a little chuckle because EVERY family I know with more than 3 kids there is a tendency to let the younger one or two to get away with “murder” lol. You always hear the older ones comment … “aargh I was never allowed to do that when I was their age” I don’t know if it’s because we’re worn out from child 1 and 2 or if we’re just older by the time the younger ones enter our lives. good read :)

  9. What do you suggest to handle situation when you are trying to be consistent in how you are dealing with a problem and a family member ( NOT the other parent) puts themselves in middle of situation and starts screaming, scolding, threatening the child over what you as the parent are trying to do?

    1. I had this happen. I had to bite the bullet and say to that person “I’m his mom and I’ll take care of it.” It was awkward, but she got over it and my son was thankful I rescued him (he was 4 at the

  10. Great post. my little girl is 2 this week, and for her age is very bright and intelligent. We practice all if the above on a regular basis. The thing I find hardest to deal with is the talking back. Things like “no”, “stop it mummy” or even “shut up mummy”. I really don’t know where she has picked the last one up from. When she does say it I always tell her that you don’t speak to mummy like that and it’s rude. It doesn’t seem to be working, how else can I deal with this?

  11. Hi, Im a first time mom to a passionate 2.5yr old. I’ve been working on many of these behaviors with my tot, but I have a real issue with disobedience. He outright ignores me and laughs when I get upset. When his attention is called, and he disagrees he will slam his head into a wall or floor several times (it terrifies me). Our pediatrician said it was a phase and to ignore it, and Ive tried to. We have tried a firm voice, placing our hands between the object and his head, spanking, redirecting…he still does it. Picture high pitched wailing cry/tantrum with physical harm. Its a nightmare. Im at a loss for what to do to get through to him. Any suggestions?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get into the Season!

In our handy book, you'll find 25 unique and simple ideas to celebrate Christmas with your family. Use code CHRISTMAS25 at checkout to get $4 off (44% off)! Get yours now!

25 Days of Christmas: A Family
No, thanks.