How to Deal with Rebellious Toddlers: 6 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Many parents struggle with finding effective ways to deal with rebellious toddlers.

Learning to deal with rebellious toddlers is just part of the joyous process of parenting as toddlers begin their quest for autonomy. Virtually all toddlers begin showing some signs of rebellion, right about the time they learn their favorite word, “no!”. However, while it is part of a toddler's job description to be difficult at times, if your toddler starts acting over-rebellious, there may be an underlying reason, and it is your job as a parent to discover why you little one is trying to turn your every request into a power struggle.


  1. 1
    Look for similarities in the situations where your toddler is acting rebellious. Even though it may not seem obvious, defiant behavior most commonly stems from triggers that occur in specific or similar situations. If your toddler acts rebellious every time someelse is around, but is relatively well behaved the rest of the time -- for a toddler -- his behavior may stem from feelings of jealousy because he can’t monopolize your attention.
  2. 2
    Exert patience. Susanne Ayers Denham, professor of developmental psychology at George Mason University, states defiance is how toddlers assert themselves. As your toddler grows, he will begin to discover his autonomy. His behavior during this time, which may appear as rebellious, is just your tike’s way of asserting himself.
  3. 3
    Set firm and consistent limits. Maintaining limits is one of the most difficult concepts for parents to master, but toddlers need boundaries so they can learn how far they are allowed to go. If your boundaries are constantly changing, your toddler will continually test the limits to see when, and if, the limits or your rules change. So grow a backbone and learn to set and stick to boundaries, no matter how much it breaks your heart when your toddler starts to pout or embarrasses you when he pitches a fit in the middle of the store because he can’t have the toy he wants.
  4. 4
    Encourage positive behavior. It is far easier to encourage good behavior than to discourage negative actions. Toddlers have an attention span that is seemingly best measured in nano-seconds, and one of the best and simplest ways to create a positive atmosphere when your toddler is acting rebellious is with a distraction. When you little terror becomes rebellious, tell him you need a favor. Make up something simple, like asking him to check if you left the water running in the bathroom. When he comes back, thank him and then resume your activity. Odds are, he will have forgotten what it was that he was acting out about. Include him in more meaningful activities, like helping to take out the trash, giving his baby sister a bath or letting him hold the leash when walking the dog -- provided you don’t have a Great Dane.
  5. 5
    Talk to your toddler on his level. Parents all too often forget their toddlers have a limited vocabulary and understanding, so remember the acronym KISS: keep it short and simple. If your toddler takes off running across the parking lot as soon as you let him out of the car, take him gently by the arm, get down on his level and say, “Johnny, we have to hold hands or we can’t go into the store,” while holding out your hand. If he refuses, stand there in silence for as long as it takes, holding his arm until he complies, and then praise him when he obeys.
  6. 6
    Give him advanced notice, whenever possible. Your toddler’s brain takes a minute to shift gears, so if he is engrossed with his blocks or coloring book, give him a few minutes warning that he will need to stop soon. Also, as your toddler probably can’t tell time, he doesn't know when his bedtime is nearing, so don’t be shocked when he rebels at your announcement that it's time for bed. Instead, tell him he has a few more minutes to finish up whatever he is doing before he has to get ready for bed.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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