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Your Toddler Will Test Your Limits! 4 Tips on Handling Him
PHOTO BY @maroke/iStock
  • No one will disagree that babies are adorable. Their little laugh, the way they sigh and coo, their babble. Why, even how their tiny mouths curl down to cry is just endearing! No wonder we parents sometimes hope they don't grow up too fast.

    But you can't hold back the hands of time, and before you know it, they'll have grown into toddlers! All of a sudden, that baby who was such a darling is no more — he has become a defiant running machine, who would wail without a warning and whose favorite word is "NO!" What happened?

    "Kids this age see themselves as separate beings from their parents and free to make their own decisions," Tovah Klein, Ph.D., author of How Toddlers Thrive, told Parents. As such, he is also testing his limits to see what he can get away with. Will mom give in? Can I push it a notch higher? It can be a fun but frustrating stage for you.

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    How to get your toddler to follow you without losing your patience

    Don't take it personally

    Her "NO" is not directed towards you. And while it doesn't feel that way, child psychologist Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D. says, "Every day, your toddler is developing skills and greater awareness, and she wants to explore her newfound power." So, all of this is just how she learns and develops. It's not to say that you should let your toddler boss you around. Still tell her what she should do — whether that's to stay on his seat, or not to throw the toys away — while also keeping in mind that she is experimenting. And, get this: your child will only behave this way if she feels safe with you. So let that be your thought before you allow yourself to get annoyed.


    Let him win...a little.

    Well, sort off. Kids this age want to be in control, and by letting him win sometimes, you might just see less resistance. A good strategy is giving him a "choice." Say you want him to dress up, but he'd rather run around in his diapers. Give him two clothing options from which he must choose. Whichever one he picks, you'll have accomplished your goal, which is for him to dress up.

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    Focus on the positive.

    For young kids like these, it matters a lot how you phrase your "requests". Instead of starting your sentence with "Dont...", "Tell him what you'd like him to do, says parenting coach Carrie Contey, Ph.D. Rather than saying, "Don't run," say, "Walk slowly." When you give attention to a negative behavior, he'll likely act out even more. 

    Pick your battles.

    When faced with a situation with your toddler and he doesn't seem to mind what you're telling him, ask yourself: will it matter now? Does it jeopardize his safety? If it doesn't, maybe it's fine to just let it slide. Give your child a hug — maybe that's all he needs to be more cooperative. And then, whatever it is, just let it go.

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