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Baffling Toddler Behavior, Explained

The "Old MacDonald Phase"

Toddlers become so obsessed with a favorite song (or book) that they want to hear it over and over.

  • What's going on: Doing things again and again is predictable, so it's comforting.
  • How to deal: Indulge her. All that repeating may annoy you, but it's calming to her. Don't worry -- she'll find new songs and books.

The Scaredy-Cat Phase

Bathtub drains, flushing toilets, or costumed characters send your child running for cover.

  • What's going on: With improved reasoning skills, she wonders, "If poop can go down the toilet, can I?" And big, furry creatures can look scary when you're small.
  • How to deal: Explain she's safe in a way that makes sense: "You're too big to fit down the drain."

The Control-Freak Phase

All doors must be shut. Refrigerator magnets have to line up. Cars cannot be put away with dolls.

  • What's going on: Because a kid can feel overwhelmed by new things, utter order gives her power.
  • How to deal: Let her take control of one room, and expect some meltdowns when things are out of place. At least she's learning from sorting and arranging!

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