5 Common Toddler Behavior Problems (And What To Do About Them)

October 29, 2022

Toddlers are frustrating and adorable in equal measures. They’re learning how to communicate, but their words aren’t always clear. Toddler behavior problems are not uncommon, as they are undergoing intellectual, social, and motor changes and may become overwhelmed yet lack the skills to communicate these feelings properly. Misbehaving occurs as they struggle to process these feelings.  

Challenging Behavior In Toddlers

As a parent, it is important to recognize the behavior patterns in toddlers and children so that we can respond appropriately when they are acting out. Having the ability to understand their emotions can help us be more compassionate toward their feelings and condition. At Holly Spring Pediatrics, we’re here to help and guide you through some of the most common toddler behavior problems. 


During early childhood, biting is very common. The National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests there are several different reasons for biting, including:

  • Your child is teething
  • Instinctively due to a lack of self-control
  • Oral-motor stimulation
  • Get attention
  • Act in self-defense
  • As a way to communicate needs and desires
  • As a way of expressing difficult feelings or emotions

Biting is often a phase, and many children will stop on their own. Suppose your child is still biting past the age of 3 years old. In that case, seeing your child’s pediatrician may be beneficial, as it may be due to underlying conditions such as speech delays, sensory processing disorder, or autism spectrum disorder.


Another common toddler behavior problem is whining. Like crying, whining is often a way to get attention when kids are hungry, tired, bored, feeling sick, not getting enough attention, or when they’re told “no.” Whining occurs most often in children between the ages of two and six but depends on several factors. Some ways to combat whining include offering a distraction or redirecting, staying calm, not giving in, and being consistent.


Although fibbing may not seem like a normal part of childhood behavior and development, it is. Your child may tell lies for a number of reasons, including: 

  • They’re too young to understand it’s wrong to lie
  • The lie seems true to them
  • Not understanding the difference between pretend play and reality
  • They think the lie will get them something they want
  • They’re exaggerating a truth

If you are consistently catching your child in lies, it is beneficial to talk to them about why lying isn’t an okay behavior. Try encouraging honest behavior from a young age by being truthful yourself and keeping your promises.


Toddler behavior problems can be challenging to manage, and screaming is no exception. Just as whining, screaming is another way for your child to express their emotions. However, this behavior can get old… fast. Some great ways to spare your eardrums include:

  • Teach your child the concept of using an inside voice and an outside voice
  • Use positive reinforcement or selective ignoring
  • Allow your child to make some decisions for themselves
  • Divert their attention to something else

Watching your own tone and setting a good example for your child is a great starting point in your journey to combat screaming fits.


Just as with other common toddler behavior problems, your child constantly interrupting can be infuriating. However, mastering how to join a conversation is a skill that must be learned over time. While learning social skills and cues, a child might interrupt simply because they have a hard time waiting their turn to say what’s on their mind. Modeling good communication and attentive listening is important from a young age, as children tend to model their parents’ behaviors. 

It is important to keep an eye on your toddler’s behaviors as some problems can be the result of other underlying conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), or conduct disorder (CD). Here at Holly Springs Pediatrics, we are ready to answer all your questions, including more on common toddler behavior problems and how to deal with them. Request an appointment through our website or give us a call at (919) 249-4700.