Challenges of Your Toddler’s Increasing Independence

It’s natural for your toddler to begin to develop a sense of his own needs and wants and to look for opportunities to express these. He’s gaining confidence in his own abilities and becoming less dependent on you. However, it’s also normal for him to become frustrated when he doesn’t get what he wants. This frustration may be expressed through tantrums and obstinacy.
Tantrums are the result of frustration when your child is thwarted either by you or his own still-limited abilities. Eventually, he is so full of tension that only an explosion can release it. Sometimes the build-up is slow—you can see the tantrum coming hours before it happens. Other times, it strikes fast and unexpectedly. In either case, while the tantrum lasts your toddler is overwhelmed and frightened by the intense feelings he can’t control. You can help your toddler by remaining calm and non-reactive, reminding yourself that this is just a phase that will pass and that your toddler's tantrums are much more unpleasant for him than they are for you.
Obstinacy can be another challenge. When your toddler starts saying, “No, no, no” to the meals you serve, the clothes you pick out and activities you suggest, he’s not intentionally being difficult—he’s trying to make decisions on his own, based on his own feelings. Look for simple ways to avoid getting into an ongoing battle of wills. Give him choices for which the outcome isn’t critical for his health and well-being, such as what to put on his toast or which pants to wear. Make it clear that some things—for example, dangerous behaviour—are not negotiable.
You can also give him decisions where he has nothing to lose. If he has two sweets, “Which are you going to eat first?” is a question he can consider without stress. He has them both. Nobody is going to take away the one he eats second. If he wants to, he can change his mind again and again.

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