She pokes a sandwich into the DVD player, throws her dinner on the kitchen floor and refuses to lie down while you change her nappy. What’s happened to your little angel? Don’t worry, your 1-year-old isn’t being naughty – she just doesn’t know what is right and wrong.
Karen Sullivan, author of How To Say ‘No’ And Mean It: Survival Skills For Parents (Thorsons, £8.99), explains: ‘Children respect parents who set boundaries. No child will feel confident if they have unlimited freedom or toys.’ Follow these guidelines:
- Avoid labels, if she hears you describing her as a cheeky brat, she’ll act like one.
- Praise good behaviour. All too often disruptive behaviour gets noticed most, so she’ll equate attention with naughtiness.
- Have a sense of humour. Laughing can defuse an angry situation, and help her see her behaviour was actually quite silly.
- When you say ‘no’, mean it. Save ‘no’ for important issues and stick to your guns.
- Set boundaries. If she gets up when she should be in bed, take her back.
He’s rejecting me
You know your toddler loves you, so why do you feel so hurt when he pushes you away?
Health visitor Dawn Kelly says: ‘As your child’s language develops, not everything he says will fill you with pride. If he screams “Want Daddy!” when you go into his room, or “Go away!” when you pick him up, you’re bound to be upset. After their first year, toddlers begin to realise they are separate beings who can exert control.
‘Most children prefer one carer over another at some point, too. Demanding to be with a particular person is common if a child is cross or unhappy. It isn’t rejection or preference though, it’s simply a way of flexing their free will.
‘The best thing to do is go along with it and try not to feel hurt or upset. Toddlers easily switch preferences, so you’ll be flavour of the month again before you know it.’