Toddlers often say "no" or do the opposite of what you want them to do. During this normal phase of development, children test the rules parents make to see if a parent will really do what they say.
Toddlers can be passionate about getting their own way. They want to do things for themselves, like run and climb up stairs or chairs. They want to be in charge of what they wear and eat, where they go, and what they do. A toddler's bossiness is way to test how much power he or she really has. Toddlers will do things purposely to anger or frustrate parents just to get parents to pay attention to them. They are great imitators of behavior they see and hear.
Handle bossiness with gentle firmness and kindness. In time, children will see that there are better ways than demanding to get what they want. Try these strategies to help develop a happy, well-behaved, and independent child.
Here are some ways you can avoid trouble.
Make sure that your child is old enough to understand what you want him to do. A 2 year old does not have the attention span or the self-awareness that a 6 year old has.
Notice when your child is being good. Praise your child or give a reward such as a snack, fun activity, or small toy. Note times when your child misbehaves, and see if there is a pattern.
Approach your child with understanding and humor. Use your authority for the larger issues, such as safety. Your rules should not be too strict or too lenient. Be gentle but firm with your child.
Enforce the rules fairly every time. If a rule is broken, after a short, clear, and gentle explanation, immediately find a place for your child to sit alone for 2 minutes. Time-out should be composed of complete withdrawal of any person’s attention from the child. It is very important for a time-out to come right after a rule is broken. The most important thing parents can do is to be consistent in following through with reasonable rules. If you feel like your child does not respond to time-out, talk to your doctor for advice.
Teach your child about consequences. For example, if your child doesn't stay in the car seat then the car doesn't go. If he throws food on the floor, then he doesn't get any more and may be hungry (and if your child is old enough, have him help clean the floor).
Most importantly, be consistent with your discipline. Don't make rules unless you mean it. If you say you are going to do it, do it. If you give in, you will not change your child’s bad behavior.
Your child's self-esteem will increase as he or she learns to deal with the world and other people. How you manage this period of growing independence and individuality will impact your child's future behavior. Many parents find the toddler stage difficult. Stay calm. Ask your healthcare provider if you would like more advice on managing behavior. With patience, support, understanding, and consistency, you and your child will survive this phase.