How To Deal With Your Toddlers Obsessive Behaviour
What Causes Obsessive Behaviour In Children
You don’t know what to make of your toddler’s obsessions. She probably insists on eating cheese omelette every day and makes a fuss when you give her anything else. Perhaps she only wants to wear pink and complains when you dress her in other colours. As you’ve already discovered, when you challenge her fixations, she goes into meltdown mode. Such
behaviour is common during the toddler years for a number of reasons.
- First, your two-year-old enjoys the familiarity of the same colour, or the same food, or the same toy. This makes her feel happy, safe and secure because she knows what to expect. Her favourite cuddly toy, for example, looks, feels and even smells exactly the way she likes it.
- Second, the intense attachment to an object puts your toddler firmly in the driving seat. She’s in charge as she tells you precisely what she wants and how she wants it. Your toddler feels empowered and self-important by having this type of control.
- Third, the familiarity gives her emotional reassurance. There are no difficult challenges about what to eat and no unexpected demands about wearing clothes she doesn’t like. It gives her confidence and satisfaction.
Go With The Flow
In most instances, she’ll lose interest in the item or habit after a few weeks. That’s why it is best that you don’t pay too much attention to her behaviour, or even do nothing at all about it. The potential danger is that if you decide to block her obsession, you are likely end up in a battle of wills. One confrontation will follow another as she digs her heels in, insisting, for example, that she feels sick if she eats anything different or that she can’t sleep if she doesn’t snuggle up to her favourite plushie at night.
The more you pressure her into giving it up, the more stubborn she becomes. In addition, she’ll soon learn that this is guaranteed to grab your attention. Before you know, her odd obsessions would have increased, just so you spend more time with her. A low-key approach is a more effective strategy. Suggest alternatives, by all means, but don’t force change upon her. Give her time, and you’ll find that any attachment gradually becomes less intense, without your help. At this age, it typically fades spontaneously within three or four weeks.
We Have A Problem
An obsession can be a psychological problem, however, when it occupies all your child’s thoughts and becomes her only topic of conversation. Or when it disrupts your family life because she won’t leave the house without her comfort toy; or she absolutely refuses to eat anything else except the food she is crazy about.
If it’s taken over her life, identify the triggers or areas that might trouble her, such as problems with her siblings or anxiety about leaving you while she attends childcare. You’ll notice that when you address that underlying worry, her obsession will ease.