A toddler’s outlook at this stage is generally negative, says child psychologist Evangeline Alianan- Bautista. Remember that he is psychologically breaking away from babyhood, where he was totally dependent on you, and attempting to move towards independence. It is a most difficult phase.
Self-punishment is usually triggered by a related event in his life, which may have caused his frustration. Don’t jump to any conclusions; consider all possible stressors. Help him express his negative emotions appropriately, so he won’t turn on himself. Let him burn off steam through physical activities. Give him attention and affection to help him feel better about himself. Sometimes, he just needs to hear that you still love him even though he behaved badly.
Geraldine Oris, M.A. in Developmental Psychology, Ateneo de Manila University; education professor, University of Asia and the Pacific, Pasig City
Evangeline Alianan-Bautista, M.A., child psychologist, PsychConsult, Inc., Unit 227 Regalia Park Towers, 150 P. Tuazon Ave., Cubao, Q.C., tel. 421-2469