Ever got into a fight with your toddler over which shoes match which dress or whether to eat breakfast before or after bathing? You are not alone. Sometimes, your toddler is just plain unreasonable. But in your toddler’s mind, there is nothing unreasonable about doing it her way. After all, you do it your way all the time.
Why do toddlers want their way?
At age 2 or thereabouts, toddlers are beginning to assert their independence. They are figuring that they are different from you. ‘No’ becomes one of their favourite words and the automatic response to anything you suggest, especially if they realise that saying no to you will get them a little bit more attention from you, even if it is negative attention. They actually love doing this. Rather than getting into conflicts over this, try to use it to your advantage.
How to avoid fighting your toddler
Why don’t you offer two choices that are agreeable to you instead of only one choice that in all likelihood will be refused by your little boss? You could bring out two dresses and ask her to choose one. This puts them in charge and helps them develop confidence. Alternatively, just let it go because you will not win this fight and it will end in tears for you both. I know it will not look nice wearing a pyjama top on an outing skirt for a trip to the mall but this would not kill anyone. Also, your toddler may actually change her mind after a while.
Another tact to employ is to just ignore. Pretend you didn’t see her throw on the floor the slice of bread she just begged for. And sometimes, do say yes. Nothing is more energy-sapping than a constant stream of noes from both of you in turn. If your toddler is asking to sit on the floor and eat instead of in her high chair, it may be a good idea to just say yes. Of course, when it comes to the really important and big things like not wanting to sit in a car seat or hitting a sibling, say no consistently and mean it no matter how profuse the tears get. Otherwise, tantrums will begin to seem like the pathway to get you to back down. But the less important things do not really deserve the energy involved in fighting. Also, try distracting your toddler with something else instead of saying no to her repeatedly. In all likelihood, the request will be forgotten in no time and all will be well in paradise for a few minutes.
Choose your battles wisely
Kids grow so fast and by the time you know it, they are already teenagers. Try to savour the moments while they last. Do keep in mind that while saying no is your toddler figuring that she is her own person, she may of course also be testing you from time to time to see what she can get away with. So, try not to present her with the opportunity to say no too often, but when she does, choose first the path of peace unless it would actually endanger someone. In short, be smart about it and choose your battles wisely.