When it comes to your child’s behavior, have you noticed that they respect your partner’s authority but strongly resist you? This is a common issue among parents, often leaving them puzzled and asking. Are you wondering why your toddler refuses to behave when around you? Understanding the answer can offer significant insights into your child’s behavior and how to address it.
After returning after a pleasant afternoon of kid-free errand-running, I asked my loved ones how their day was. My husband volunteered, “Fine.” I pressed him for more information, but he just shrugged and kept saying, “She was fine.” I really needed to know how our daughter behaved during lunchtime, playtime, and the in-between moments when she tends to act up.
No temper outbursts from her, huh? When he accidentally gave her the pink cup at lunch instead of the green one used for milk, there was no all-out conflict, right? He said matter-of-factly, “Nope, she drank from what I gave her.” “And she joined Kitty in bed for a sleep. She needs at least five people on my bed whenever I’m home.
I get first dibs on some of my daughter’s most memorable moments since I’m the one who takes care of her, but I still don’t get why she fights with me over the smallest things but is so cooperative when someone else is in charge. It turns out that her age is a major factor. Experts believe it’s common for toddlers to direct most of their poor conduct toward the most frequently around parent.
Is this a question you’ve asked yourself, “Why does my child only act out with me?” Learn the cause and appropriate response.
How to Make Sense of Bad Behavior in Kids
Your baby’s first grins and giggles were meant for you to enjoy. Why do their biggest cracks appear to be the things they’ve been storing for you all along? According to UCLA’s Karen Dudley, an expert in child development, “Most of the time, a child feels most safe talking about his feelings with the person who takes care of him the most.” Don’t assume that your child doesn’t enjoy spending time with you just because you’re not their other parent. They may be testing how secure they feel with you by acting out.
Your child’s fast-developing brain is contributing to this change in behavior. A toddler’s ability to remember is growing, so he will more frequently recall his desires. Furthermore, young children are just beginning to understand about social interactions and their limits. Psychotherapist and respected parenting authority Dr. Alyson Schafer advises parents to let their children test the waters in order to learn where the boundaries lie. It seems to reason that the parent who spends the most time with their toddler will be the one to encounter the most instances of resistance.
Sustaining One’s Position of Power
It’s tempting to give in when your child is being demanding or is refusing to comply with your requests, especially if doing so will prevent a tantrum. However, toddlers require boundaries, and if your child has a history of misbehaving around you, this is the most effective way to encourage better conduct.
The proper way to proceed. The first step you can take to prevent a power struggle with your child is to always give them a one-minute warning before transitions. Because your child’s playtime is her job, you should always prepare her for transitions.
If it’s almost bedtime and your child won’t put away their blocks, try telling them what they should do next. You could say something like, “You can build two more towers—and then we’re going to put on your pajamas and read a story.” Instruct your budding architect that playing is ended and that it is time to start getting ready for bed. Your child may learn that you don’t always mean what you say if you give in to their request to construct “just one more.”
A good strategy to avoid a standoff is to give your child several options, as this will appeal to their need for autonomy. You may ask your youngster, “Do you want to put on your jacket or your shoes first?” if they’re resisting getting ready to go to the park and you’re trying to persuade them to do so. Limiting options to no more than two will help keep your child from feeling overwhelmed. If you put on your own coat and shoes beside theirs, that can help too. Doing what your child does is a great way to teach them the desired behavior.
Recognizing the Truth About Your Toddler’s Actions
Toddlers aren’t always going to comply with your every request, even if you give them plenty of warnings and give them other options. This can be especially trying on a parent’s patience if their child seems consistently cooperative with their partner’s requests. But keep your calm and don’t let the situation get to you. A toddler’s resistance to cooperation is likely to increase if you criticize him or her.
Keep a calm and pleasant tone of voice when dealing with your child; you may even want to give them some credit for being able to make their own choices about how they want to act. You may remark, “You’re right, I can’t make you pick up your things, but I really need your help,” if your child is being disobedient about putting away toys. Should I put your vehicles in the basket myself, or do you want to pass them on to me? Schafer adds that if you explain to your child why you need their assistance, they are more inclined to offer it.
Finally, make sure you have a little surprise planned for those hard days when your toddler is being extra difficult with you (like allowing yourself to watch your favorite reality program in bed instead of doing a chore). You can even use your child’s relaxed demeanor toward your partner. For instance, if your child has a history of tantrums at bath time, your partner may be better suited to handle this task.
And never forget to be gentle with yourself. Being firm while dealing with a stubborn toddler is no easy feat, so give yourself a break when they refuse to comply.