Your child will experience many emotional challenges in early childhood and learning that the world does not revolve around them and their wishes is perhaps one of the hardest.
When babies are born, they see their mothers as an extension of themselves. As they develop, young children move towards the awareness that they have a separate identity, but continue to feel that you and the rest of the world exist solely for them.
This awareness begins to show between the ages of one and two and a half years, this is the time often referred to as the “terrible twos”. Your child will then need to demonstrate this knowledge of their independence though their behaviour.
Underlying this new found assertiveness is still the belief that they are the centre of the universe and as such, your child will tend to view themselves in the position of power in most situations.
Setting limits will help your child in the transition. Limits are vital for young children in two major ways. They keep them safe from the very real dangers of the wider world, and they set guidelines for appropriate behaviour.
Your child needs to know where their power ends and yours begins – it helps them feel safe and secure. They will constantly test these limits, trying to see how far they can push the boundaries, but in order for them to function in the wider world, they need clear, consistent rules to abide by.
The Art of Negotiation
If your child desperately craves something a friend has, perhaps suggest they could do a trade or temporary exchange. This is a good place to start to develop their negotiation skills.
Positive Side of this phase:
Try to view your child’s new found bossiness as a positive trait that just needs a little guidance and training.
Self motivation and natural leadership are two great qualities that can stem from “bossiness” when tempered with a little thoughtfulness and willingness to co-operate.
Toddlers have limited patience and equally limited verbal skills, so overwhelming feelings may be vented in an aggressive way, such as hitting, kicking, pushing or biting.
Try not to over react and avoid criticising your child if they do act on impulse and strike out, Make sure that they realise it is their behaviour that is not acceptable not them as a person.
Use simple statements such as “We don’t hit – hitting hurts”, or “Hands are not for hitting, you can use them for catching balls or clapping instead”.
Help your child to use words rather than actions to explain their feelings and redirect their attention to another toy/activity – or room if necessary.