The 'No' Stage: Toddler Power Struggles
Two-year-old Joshua’s “No!” is accompanied by a sly look at Mom. He is testing his mother’s limits, but he is also trying to navigate his own limits. He is asking, “Are my parents a part of me, or do we think independently?”
Weary parents, don’t despair! Here are some tips to help you manage these trying times.
Your Child and No!
A few months ago Joshua learned his hand was part of him, and his mommy’s finger between his first teeth was not. This leads to two conclusions: Biting mommy’s fingers doesn’t hurt him but the consequences vary, and biting his own fingers hurts every time.
Not long after this discovery of independence, the milestones of eating, sleeping, and toilet training become the early battlegrounds for the “No” stage. Here, a child has an advantage because he has his own inside information: “Aren’t you hungry?”
The power struggle begins.
Your Role As Parent
For the first time, parents don’t have complete information or control. They can’t directly force a child to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom (successfully). They need their child’s cooperation, and the child quickly discovers that there is power in that!
Parents may view these early toddler power struggles as a time to be strong, but they are also a time to begin giving away some control and allowing a child practice in being independent.
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