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The Crazy Things That Toddlers Do

WebMD unlocks the mysteries of toddler behavior, from running around naked to snacking on Fido's food.

He Just Did What? continued...

He pinches her nipples in public, slaps her bare bottom while she is getting dressed, and chases after his older sister and other toddler-age girls with an open mouth, followed by a licking attack.

"Right around my son's 18-month checkup, my pediatrician said, 'Be aware of willful behavior,'" she says. "At the time, I thought, 'Who, my son? He's such a sweet, docile kid.' And then, I'm not kidding, maybe a few days later my son started acting out a bit and testing limits."

Ellis uses timeouts to calm him down. "Most of the time I think he does it to get my attention," she says. "If someone else is around, I usually laugh and say, 'Wow, look at my crazy kid,' and they laugh, too."

Toddlers just love attention at this stage, Briggs says. "They don't actually care so much if it's adoration or funny looks or giggles. They'll take any kind of attention."

The key is the more you offer attention for positive behaviors, she says, the more you pre-empt that attention-seeking behavior.

Good Touch, Bad Touch

A hot topic of conversation for parents of toddlers is "sexploration" -- fondling or touching themselves as they become more aware of their bodies.

"The first thing for parents to know is that it's a normative phase of development," Briggs says. "As long as it's a moderate amount of exploration and touching, don't get worried at all."

She emphasizes that it's important to let your child know: "It's your private part, and if you want to touch it, you need to do it in your private time." Also, you should explain the difference between "good touch, bad touch" -- who can touch it and what are appropriate times, like during bath time or at the doctor's office.

Roberts remembers how her toddler thought "poke the pee-pee was the funniest game in the world." He and the other boys would be fully dressed and giggle hysterically as they pointed out that somebody had a penis.

Kids at this age, Briggs says, are fascinated by the concept of "same and different" in gender. If your child is getting hands-on with other children, explain calmly: "Sweetheart, we don't touch other people's private parts, just as nobody touches your private part."

How should parents deal with this type of toddler behavior? Stay calm and deliver your comments in the same voice that you use for an explanation of how to tie shoes, she says.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Toddler Behavior

Beatrice DeArmond in Gallup, NM, says her 2-year-old granddaughter Isa can't get enough of doggie treats and Charlie the dog's water bowl. As soon as she could crawl, Isa would head straight for the kitchen, where the dog's food and water are stored.

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