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I think I’m raising a diva. Mariah Carey look out! Maybe it’s the terrible twos rearing its ugly head or maybe it’s a personality trait, but “diva” is not how I wanted my sweet baby to turn out.

Where did I go wrong as a parent? If your sweet baby is turning into a diva, here’s how to turn things around!

How do you know if you’re raising a diva?

My daughter recently received high-heeled shoes for her birthday, and she hasn’t taken them off. She also has very specific ideas on her outfits (dresses and sparkly pants every day). I understand her love of sparkly accessories (she takes after me on that one), but her new diva attitude runs deeper than the clothes she wears.

Aside from the “diva outfits,” what worries me the most is my daughter’s new “diva personality.” While some of these “personality traits” are normal toddler behaviors, there’s a fine line between “normal” and “diva.”

Tantrums

Does your child throw tantrums more than usual? If your child is tired, sick, or hungry, this may be perfectly normal. If your child simply wants everything “her way,” you may have a budding diva.

Lack of respect

Does your toddler hit, yell at you, or otherwise show a lack of respect? My daughter started to be disrespectful as she yelled “stop it” and covered my mouth when I sang. She also began yelling “get out of the room” when I tried to help her sit on the potty. While a growing understanding of privacy and independence is normal at this stage, it’s unacceptable to yell and hit.

Ungrateful attitude

Does your “diva” use her manners? My daughter is pretty good about saying thank you, but she never thinks to ask politely or say please. Instead, she demands things, and if she doesn’t get her way, she throws an obscene tantrum.

“Me do” or “mine” attitude

Every toddler goes through a “mine” and “me do” phase as they try out their independence. This is normal, but it’s important to help your child realize that there are guidelines. No, your two-year-old can’t have everything that they see!

Is "diva behavior" a product of your parenting style or your child's personality?

What causes your child to turn into a diva?

Parenting

Your discipline style may contribute to your child’s behavior. According to  Anita Gurian, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, “Parents who are sensitive to their child’s temperamental style and can recognize the child’s unique strengths will make family life smoother.”

Tailor your parenting style to your child’s needs. In addition to working with your spouse to create a unified discipline strategy, you should also discipline according to your child’s needs. Discipline isn’t one-size-fits-all. Make sure that you’re meeting your child’s needs while creating structure in your home. (If you’re looking for a great book on discipline techniques, I love the Parenting With Love and Logic books. Read my review here.)

Personality

“Temperament is a set of in-born traits that organize the child’s approach to the world. They are instrumental in the development of the child’s distinct personality,” according to Child Development Info.

Your child’s personality is a combination of her temperament and her environment. Your child may be born with a more “high-strung” temperament than another child, but you can foster that temperament to help your child adjust to her surroundings (without becoming a diva).

How do you teach your diva to be a grateful child?

1. Teach your child to “use your words”

Most temper tantrums stem from a child’s inability to express herself. Help her to “use her words” so that she can express how she’s feeling. Instead of pointing and whining, remind your child to verbalize her wants and needs.

2. Show your child how to share

My daughter is starting to think that everything she sees is hers, regardless of whether another child is playing with it. Try saying things like, “I know you’re upset because your brother is playing with your mermaid, but we need to share. Let’s play with Captain Hook, instead. When your brother is done with the mermaid, it’ll be your turn to play with it.” This will help your child to understand that there’s a time and a place for everything, and sharing is a part of life.

I also work with my kids on trading. My five-year-old especially loves offering his sister a random toy in exchange for the toy that he wants to play with!

3. Practice using manners

My daughter’s great at saying “thank you” and “I welcome,” but she leaves a little to be desired in the “please” department. Instead of saying “more fruit please,” she just screams “berries!!!”

If that sounds like your child, try repeating what she says. “You want more berries? How do you say that nicely? We say, ‘more berries, please.'”

Also, make sure that everyone else in your house is modeling their manners. I tend to give the kids directives like, “put the books away,” instead of saying please. 😉 It’s a little difficult for kids to know how to use their manners if they never hear them being used!

4. Establish rules and boundaries for your child

Older kids understand “house rules” better than younger kids, and can even give input when you’re creating a list of house rules. Even so, it’s helpful to start enforcing rules at a young age.

Work with your toddler to pick up her own toys, put away books after story time, and to only eat or drink in certain areas, like the kitchen. Also, be sure to enforce “everywhere rules,” like no hitting and no spitting. (Yes, “no spitting” had to become one of our family rules. When my son was a toddler, he saw “Daddy do it” outside, and thought spitting on the living room carpet was a fabulous idea.)

With the right encouragement, you can help your little “diva” become a little “lady.” If you think you’re raising a diva, examine your parenting style and make sure that it matches your child’s personality. Then work with your child. Once she knows how to “use her words,” share, use manners, and follow rules, you’ll be well on your way to raising the sweet child you always knew she was!

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