Toddler Power Struggles

You may have the cutest baby in the world, but sooner or later, that giggly little chubby-faced munchkin is going to turn into a toddler who has decided that “it’s her way or the highway”.

Although power struggles with your toddler are a natural part of their growing and learning experiences, it can get frustrating for us as parents (and nannies!). Don’t fret – this is your little one’s way of exerting their independence. There are ways to handle situations with your toddler, minus the escalations and explosions, and without resorting to bribery, threats, begging, or insisting they do what you say.

When the terrible two’s – and the even better terrible three’s – kick in, remind yourself that you’re the adult and stay in control with the following tips.

What’s the Cause?

Battles with toddlers are not rare – every parent (or nanny) gets to experience their fair share of struggles with these independent little people. Although it’s normal for toddlers to create difficult situations out of minor issues, you might want to look deeper into the problem. Are they tired and grumpy? Hungry? Stressed? Like adults, when we lack sufficient amount of sleep or food, we can become off-balance, and often create mountains out of mole-hills when we’re depleted.

Sometimes, a quick snack or a settling down to watch a favorite movie (and hopefully take a nap) is the best solution.

Why Are You Fighting?

Get down to the bottom of things and ask yourself: why are we fighting? If it’s because your little girl wants to wear a blue and red striped shirt with purple pants, you may want to quit participating in the morning routine battle. Let her show off her independence with mis-matched clothing and explain to people that she chose the outfit herself.

On the other hand, if the child is persistent about something that jeopardizes the health or safety of themselves or others, you’re going to have to lay down the law.

Your Choices

As the adult who is supposed to be in control, you have three options:

  • Give up control – Sometimes, as demonstrated earlier, it’s better to back down and let the child have their way. However, if you get in the habit of letting your child have their way, they will learn to wear you down to get what they want.
  • Say “NO” with conviction and stick to it – In many instances, you will have to tell the toddler “no” and stick to your guns. Explain in a firm tone of voice and with simple words, “You cannot play with matches because they are dangerous, and that’s my final decision.”
  • Negotiate – In some situations, you can provide your child with options to choose from. Explain, in simple terms, what their options are, and what they may need to sacrifice if they make certain decisions. For example, “We can stay at the pool for fifteen more minutes, but we won’t be able to get ice cream on the way home if we do. It’s your decision.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you – the adult – to stay calm and figure out: what the underlying problem is, why you’re fighting, and which solution works best for each individual situation.

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