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  • A Defiant Toddler Is Not A Bad Kid. 6 Positive Ways To Handle Misbehavior

    There's a reason why your toddler suddenly becomes a demanding, defiant, and tantrum-throwing kid.
    by Kitty Elicay .
A Defiant Toddler Is Not A Bad Kid. 6 Positive Ways To Handle Misbehavior
PHOTO BY Pixabay
  • What do parents want the most for their kids? It’s for them to be happy, healthy, and successful. In order to achieve that, we have to guide them to be the best versions of themselves.

    We know that establishing rules and following a routine starting at a young age can help improve behavior, but what to do when your angelic toddler transforms into a demanding, irrational, defiant and tantrum-throwing kid? Suddenly, your rules shift: you now want your children to behave, to listen, to always follow mommy and daddy, and to “be nice.”

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    Parents worry that if they don’t do something to curb their child’s “bad” behavior now, then they will take these behaviors into adulthood. But a defiant toddler is not a bad kid. In fact, forcing them to follow mommy and daddy can sometimes get in the way of helping them grow into “well-adjusted, emphatetic, resilient, happy older children,” according to Dr. Tovah Klein, a child development psychologist and the Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York, in her article for Mother.ly.

    “When we, unwittingly or not, try to mold our children, and shape their behavior according to some preconceived expectations of who they are and who we think they ought to be, we stamp out and smother them. We deny them the crucial foundation necessary for every child to grow up well,” she adds.

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    How to handle misbehavior in a positive way

    Defiance is part of normal child development and it’s how toddlers gain confidence. At the same time, when your child throws a tantrum, it’s not because she is a spoiled brat — tantrums are a sign that your child needs help. “It is their way of telling you that ‘I need your help. I need your help to control my emotions,’” explains Tina Zamora, Directress of Nest School for Whole Child Development, a progressive school in Manila, during her talk at the Manila International Book Fair last September 2019.


    When toddlers refuse to listen, or become rude and disrespectful, parents tend to equate it to misbehavior. But when you look at it from another perspective — refusing to listen simply means kids want to do things in their own terms, plus it helps develop critical thinking or being rude is because toddlers have yet to develop self-control and empathy — then you can start guiding your child with a more positive mindset.

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    Dr. Klein suggests six ways to handle ‘bad behavior’ using positive discipline:

    1. Mirror back a sense of safety and relative order
    2. Listen to children instead of always talking at and directing them
    3. Give children freedom to play and explore on their own
    4. Allow children the space and opportunity to struggle and fail
    5. Work to understand who each individual child is and what he needs at a given age
    6. Provide children with limits, boundaries, and guidance

    These simple actions have a big impact on children. It gives them “a strong foundation to grow during a time when they are just beginning to test and understand themselves,” according to Dr. Klein. It also gives them reassurance that mommy and daddy are right there to help them identify emotions that will enable them to “respond to and manage their complicated feelings” better.

    Most importantly, it allows parents to think calmly and clearly: “She needs me instead of there’s something wrong with her.” This change in perspective will help you support your child and be more responsive to her needs.

    How else can you discipline a child who refuses to listen? Click here for expert-recommended tips.

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