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Toddler behavior therapist: How to find one near you

Therapists can help address toddler behavioral, developmental issues

Toddlerhood is often a tumultuous time for all involved. These little guys are always learning new skills as their brains and personalities rapidly develop.



What You Need

  • Pediatrician or other health care provider

  • Local recommendations

  • Willingness to help your child overcome "normal" issues

Some toddler behaviors can seem problematic or unusual. The good news is that there is a large range of what is considered normal in this early stage of development. Still, sometimes behaviors can benefit from professional help, including from specially trained therapists. Here's more on toddler therapists and how to find one near you.

Screaming toddler

Toddler behaviors: What is normal?

There's a caveat here: If you're concerned about your toddler's behavior, it's always a good idea to consult your pediatrician.

It is rare that a child under 5 years of age will be diagnosed with a behavioral disorder. Several common behaviors in toddlers are annoying, even alarming, but typically resolve over time and can be worked out at home.

Examples include:

  • Defiance or refusal
  • Aggression
  • Sleep and bedtime difficulties
  • Lying
  • Temper tantrums
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Excessive screen time
Toddler refuses to eat

Toddler behaviors that might warrant therapy

Every child and situation is different, but there are cases where specially trained therapists can make a big difference.

One key example is speech or developmental delays. If your toddler is falling well behind on milestones, in more serious instances, it could be a sign of hearing problems or autism. Options here may include speech or physical therapy.

Serious eating problems are another example. Garden-variety pickiness is as common as it gets in toddlers. But if it's interfering with their ability to take in adequate nutrition, feeding therapy can help.

Toddler with a therapist

How to find a toddler therapist

Here's how to determine whether your toddler needs a therapist, and if they do, how to find one.

Step 1: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early intervention is an umbrella term for health care services that help babies and young children with developmental delays and disabilities. The CDC website can direct you to resources based on where you live.

Step 2: If you have health insurance, many insurance carrier websites allow you to search for providers in just about any specialty that accepts your insurance. Local parenting or community groups can also be a good source of recommendations or suggestions.

Step 3: Perhaps the best resource is your trusty pediatrician. They are plugged into the local professional scene and are usually happy to provide recommendations and referrals.

Even if most toddler behaviors aren't concerning from a medical standpoint, finding and addressing problems early can help set your child up for more success down the road. When in doubt, check with your pediatrician, and if nothing else, they can reassure you if it's not truly problematic. And if something does seem more serious, local therapists are trained and equipped to help you discover the root of the problem and respond accordingly.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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