The behavior and speech coming from children aged between 1-3 years, or the toddler stage as it is widely known, usually involves words and phrases, such as ‘no’, ‘I’m not doing that’, ‘I’m not eating that’, ‘I don’t want to eat’, ‘I’m not going to sleep’, or ‘Can you do it for me, mum?’, as well as resistant behaviors, including frowning, stamping their feet, hitting the ground with their hands, and writhing around on the floor.
Infants going through the toddler stage begin to have a greater sense of self, so they will want to test their independence and capabilities by seeing how much they can get away with. Sometimes, this will involve the child being resistant or refusing to act according to their parent’s wishes, which is one way that they will test their parents’ boundaries and strictness on various issues. For instance, infants may engage in rough play, or refuse to get out of bed, eat, stop playing, and/or go to sleep. Once the child has engaged in these resistant, uncooperative behaviors, they will carefully assess the response of their caregivers. For example, they will observe whether their caregivers get angry and lose their temper or bow to the pressure and give in to their demands. They see if their caretakers feel sorry or show their love by not refusing to do what the child wants. Whatever the response of the parents, the infant will learn from that experience and will subsequently use it as a foundation for future behavioral patterns.
The most important thing is that parents help their children to develop in an appropriate manner, aiding them to build their self-esteem, as well as teaching them how to control any selfish tendencies. This is a challenging but hugely important task due to the vital role parents play in their child’s development, and the impact this will have on the future behaviors of that person. When caring for that child, the long-term future must always be considered; do not merely look at them as a toddler, at which point their resistance, refusal to cooperate, or screaming may all seem to be cute and endearing characteristics.
In cases where the infant remains uncooperative, resistant and unwilling to do as they are being asked, parents should do their utmost in order to calm the situation, while being careful not to moan, blame the child, or lose their temper. Instead, parents should resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner once an explanation has been given to the child involved.
Another important factor to consider when attempting to resolve a situation involving an uncooperative, resistant and frustrated infant, is to speak or behave in a way which shows the child that you understand why they may feel angry and disappointed. Then explain that there are times when parents cannot do exactly as required by their children and that it is okay to feel upset, angry and sad, as long as they eventually accept what has happened and listen to their elders, thereby showing that they can behave in the appropriate manner.
All of this will set a good example to your toddler by showing that you are an accepting person who can manage your emotions without acting in a selfish, resistant or uncooperative fashion. Additionally, if parents are able to take their child in for a consultation with a pediatrician, they will be able to provide a deeper analysis of a child’s behavior, helping parents to understand them more and enabling them to fulfill their duty of aiding the infant’s overall development.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kean University, 1995