Defiant And Rebellious Behavior In Toddlers: Causes and Tips To Deal With It

7 min read

Rebellious Toddler
Defiance and rebellious behavior in toddlers is another behavioral trait that toddlers undergo at the ages between 2 to 4 years. If you think your two to three year old child reminds you of the strong opinions you had when you were a teenager then you have the company of many parents who are going through similar emotions. A two year old has just begun learning about the world, and the more he explores, the more he questions. The little baby has discovered language, and now wants to express everything. No longer does he like to stay the way you want him – he wants to be, behave, look, act, talk, walk, eat and do everything else his own way. Yes, much like you when you were a teenager.

  • Defiant Toddler: Definition
  • Why Does A Toddler Become Defiant?
  • 8 Reasons Of Defiant Toddler Behavior Problems
  • Dealing With Defiant Toddler
  • Disciplining A Defiant, Rebellious Toddler

Defiant Toddler: Definition

Persistent “no” is something that a defiant toddler will keep on repeating. Assertiveness, the will to control, and take authority over situations is the way toddlers exhibit defiance. It is, bluntly put, your toddler’s job is to oppose– now that he has learned that he does not share your priorities. Your little one now begins to understand that he is different, and wishes to control his small world. The emotional reactions now become big and intense, and he starts gaining confidence. He starts making his own choices, and defy’s the parents as he attempts to control situations. Toddlers refuse to behave the way you desire them to, and more often than not, it is sheer frustration that drives them rebellious. For example, take a 3 year old girl who observes that you sip that morning cup of tea in beautiful bone china cups. In the quest of gaining more control over the everyday life, she may want to serve her doll’s tea in the same bone china mugs you use. Now telling her that those mugs are not toys, she may get upset and throw her dolls away, stomp on her feet, refuse to speak with you and cry endlessly. Tackling terrible twos just become more difficult as toddlers kick them into gear 6 of testing your limits and pushing his. Read about terrible twos here.

Why Does A Toddler Become Defiant?

Firstly, you should understand that your toddler has just found a new sense of independence. Language has started to develop, and he is struggling with finding words to millions of expressions and feelings that are new, strange and somewhat alien. The lesser they can express in words, the more irksome they tend to get. Your little one may talk endlessly, and ask a zillion questions. Toddlers this age love the attention they get, so they’d like to dress themselves, and behave they want to. The little beings realize that they can control situations by being rebellious, they understand that they can fight or cry their way to glory, and they love to exert opposition, challenge everything that comes their way. Why, this is a development phase, as your little one explores, questions, challenges and opposes.
Yes, toddlers might have the ability to push your patience to test levels, but at the same time they also need your love and care. You will surely be ending up with a few strands of gray when this phase ceases, but then parenting is all about maintaining calms with the storms!
Tackling tantrums

8 Reasons Of Defiant Toddler Behavior Problems

As a parent, you should understand that your baby is going through many changes – emotional, physical, psychological and what not. He is confused, excited, apprehensive and even frightened.

1. Consciousness about rules:

By the age of three, a child begins to be conscious about reality, that is. He is starting to go to a pre-school. At home as well you are always telling him what to do and what not. Very teenager-like, a three year old toddler will simply tell you up front if you are bending a rule or anything like that

2. Gender identity:

This is also the age when a child begins to discover his or her gender identity. See, gender is a very fuzzy thing, and even grownups get it wrong a lot of times. Seriously, if you ask a child about his views on homosexuality and all that, chances are you will have better answers than any academician or gay activist. Their responses are uninhibited straight from the heart

3. Strong personal views:

Children at this age are very fussy about many things! For example, there are dishes they would eat and things they would not. It is the same like teenagers who are also very strong in keeping their personal opinion above everything. Trying to force anything to be understood actually does not work at all! The best parenting is always to explain the truth in a way a child understands

4. Views about social issues:

It is actually very mind-blowing to see children give their verdict on the social issues on TV and newspapers. They are totally perfect, and offer an insight that adults have missed all the time! Given the quality of news delivered in the media 24/7, it is no surprise that children grow up so fast. Parents should always comfort the little thinker that everything is going to be okay

5. Affinity for friendship:

From their toddler-ship to coming to the teenage years, children are always naturally to make friends, especially with boys and girls of the opposite gender. Seriously, nothing can be more beautiful and cute

6. Start to explore creativity:

It is in this age that the best parents get to see their children getting into the creative shoes. They are very enthusiastic and try out all types of creative stuff. From building structures with plastic models, painting, and writing poetry, every child is a genius. All they need is the support of right parenting

7. Shows contempt:

It is actually a tough task for a parent to digest a word of contempt from a three year old. However, instead of bringing your grownup ego in between, try to figure out the reason behind the contempt. Do remember, raising a child is always a parent’s learning experience

8. School is boring:

There is a good song by Progressive Rock Band Pink Floyd in their album called ‘The Wall’. It says, “We don’t need no education” in a children’s chorus. Now, grammatically, you may say that it is a double negation, but that is the point! The children are telling you that ‘no education’ or suffocating discipline is totally not wanted. Teenagers are very well-known for their common aversion to schools, studies, tests, and stuff; the same thing
Pick up your fights

Dealing With Defiant Toddler

Parenting a rebellious or a defiant child may sound complicated, but your child needs to understand that you are on his side (not AGAINST) him, and love him with all his support. He needs your guidance, so that he can make responsible decisions later, and learns right from wrong. All this, with loads of patience and an empathizing attitude. The heat of the moment may just drive you crazy and leave your dismayed and distraught. However, you need to deal with this difficult behavioral trait calmly. The below tips should help:

1. Choose your fights:

So you may not like twenty things about the way your toddler is behaving. He might be looking self centered, speaking impolitely and stomping his feet at the slightest defiance. The trick here is to pick your battles carefully and fight for one or two behavioral issues at one go. Make a list and prioritize on the basis of danger, unsocial, forbidden or simply annoying. For example, if it is biting or scratching the head, address this first. Make the pick on those that you want to put an end to sooner

2. Prevent the situations:

You can also try preventing some battles by using techniques that would help you in dealing with irksome situations now and your toddler would accept in some time. If he insists on watching tv, disconnect the power cord securely. Buy locks if he seems adamant to empty cabinets. Simple!

3. Stay calm and listen carefully:

Calmness will go a long way. So would listening carefully. If your toddler feels he’s been heard out, and Mama’s not shouting anymore, this may out rightly put him at peace. Use friendly tones, choose your words, suggest (never command) and focus on  the do’s than don’ts

4. Offer choices and alternatives:

More often than not the fight is all about control. The trick here is to give your toddler some control by offering choices. However, be sure that the choices you offer are finite in terms of limitations. Be specific and do not give open ended choices

5. Bestow rewards:

Sugar always helps the medicine go down. So your toddler needs to be given some reward when he abides by the rules and does not disappoint you. Resisting you is his natural reaction for lack of control, and it is also justified for them. A prize now and then will grant credibility to your discipline rewards

Disciplining A Defiant, Rebellious Toddler

Defiant Toddler
Resistance is something that you will constantly face in your attempt to discipline a defiant toddler. Toddlers can also exert a sense of rebellious behavior, behaving strangely and often resorting to opposition. Now your little one does not relate his wants and needs, and both fly off in different directions. If punishing is your sense of discipline, it will never work. Punishments never translate into learning, and without life’s lessons, your baby will never be able to make responsible decisions in life. So as a parent, you need to guide your child, in fact, in spite of the resistance, you need to be calm and patient and repeat the same. Anger to teach a lesson will only worsen the situation, your child is in a very delicate situation, so ensure that you shower him with lots of love, care and affection. Make sure he feels that you are with him, on his side, not against him.

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