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Rebellion In Toddlers

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

Toddlers and teens have at a least one thing in common: they want to spread their wings and challenge authority. The word "no" seems to be on the tip of every toddler's tongue, and this phase of toddler development is the "terrible twos' for good reason. Temper tantrums are bound to occur from time to time, in even in the most obedient tots.

Significance

Often, sheer frustration leads to toddler temper tantrums. Although toddlers understand much of what mom or dad tells them, a toddler isn’t able to communicate her wants and needs effectively. Simply, she goes about her day in relentless pursuit for greater control over her environment. However, this may also cause your toddler to become rebellious. If your tyke reaches into your china cabinet to serve her dolls afternoon "tea," and you tell her that your good china cups are not toys – well, she may have an emotional outburst. When she doesn’t get her way, she may become so upset that she throws her dolls, according to ZerotoThree.org, a website published by the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families.

Desire for Autonomy

The "terrible twos" generally kick into high gear as a toddler becomes torn between his reliance on adults and his growing desire for independence. Challenging authority and testing limits -- be it his, yours or his surroundings is the name of the game during the toddler years, according to HealthyChildren.org., the official website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your little explorer may rebel when he becomes annoyed and angry when you rein him in.

Mood Swings

A parent may feel like pulling her hair out as she strives to keep up with her toddler's mood swings. A toddler may be oozing with charm and charisma one minute and disobedient and fussy the next. Extreme variations in temperament are the result of emotional changes a toddler experiences as he works hard to control his impulses, feelings, actions and body, according to HealthyChildren.org. Your tot may throw a temper tantrum that includes screaming, crying hysterically and hitting, as he struggles to deal with things he wished for but that did not come true.

Distraction and Diplomacy

An insistent toddler who keeps banging his cup on the table after you've told him repeatedly that he's had plenty of juice might stop his antics if you explain that if he quiets down he'll able to hear the birds singing outside the window. When you see rebellious behavior in your toddler -- like throwing dolls -- seize the moment to help her learn more constructive ways to handle her negative feelings. Remind your little one that her dolls are still hungry and tell her how much they love their toy tea cups. Offer to help your toddler set up a tea party in her room.

Discipline

Discipline in the form of a time-out may be in order if your tot refuses to go along with your suggestions or distraction tactics. Consistency is critical when it comes to correcting your child's rebellious behavior. Sitting at the bottom of the stairs or at the end of a hallway for a brief period can help your defiant one calm down. About one minute per year age is generally considered an appropriate time-out length.

About the Author

Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

Photo Credits

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