Between 1-2 years our 'angel' baby may start behaving like a 'little devil'. She is now entering a phase of 'negativism', when she tends to do the opposite of what you want her to do. This is healthy, as it indicates that the child is beginning to develop her own personality. It is her way to telling you that you can't 'bully' her all the time, although her seemingly rebellious behaviour can often be very annoying. She may refuse to share her possessions with others. She may be fearful. She worries if she does not see you for long and clings to you when you come back. All this is normal. It will help you accept your 'angel-cum-devil' as an individual with her own distinct personality and out of this acceptance will follow tender, loving care. You should set limits. A broad framework of do's and don't is good for her in the long run. Firmness will come naturally to you. Of course, you will feel hopeless at times. However, faith in these basic guidelines will keep you going. Further, you will be heartened to know that life after 3 years is going to be comparatively easier for you and your child.
How to manage these behavioural changes effectively?
1. The good news is that at this age, your toddler wants to please you. She also wants to imitate you. The best approach therefore, is to set a good example while she follows you and tries to win your approval.
2. Reward Good Behaviour. This could be with a smile, a hug or plenty of praise and attention.
3. Use the method of distraction when she insists on touching something that she should not be handling or touching, This is preferable to shouting at her. Give her something more interesting and divert her attention.
4. When that does not work, start using the precious word 'No'. Say 'No' in a firm, matter-of-fact way whenever needed and required. Let there be no harshness, bitterness or sarcasm in the tone of your voice. Do not keep saying 'No' all the time.
5. Let there be a few practical and realistic rules that the child can understand. Be consistent. Make sure that the child observes the set rules. Parents and grandparents must not have differing viewpoints. Let the child understand that a 'No' means 'No'. First, she won't be sure of your command. When she does associate your consistent 'No' with the expected prohibition, she will gradually start accepting the limits to which she can go.
6. Show approval when she listens to your instructions. Ignore minor offences, but if she is putting herself into a dangerous situation, act fast to move her away with a firm 'No' and ensure her safety.
7. Your one-year-old infant may not understand the concept of danger. As she crawls about or learns to walk, she may want to put her fingers into the electric socket, pull down the table lamp or the tablecloth. She may want to put everything that comes her way into her mouth. In the process of touching new objects, she is learning about different shapes, sizes and textures. She is learning to coordinate her hand and mouth movements. As long as she does not harm herself or harm others in the process, her natural instinct to explore must not be curbed or stifled. Keep breakable objects out of her reach. A few things that she is not supposed to touch may be kept, so that you can teach her the meaning of 'No'. However, make sure she has a lot of things around the house that she can touch and play with.
8. At this age, she may also throw things on the ground. This type of behaviour does not necessarily mean that she is being naughty or bad; she is learning the art of releasing objects and watching where they land.
9. Do not be surprised when she is afraid of strangers; she is in the process of learning to distinguish her near and dear ones from others. Advise visitors not to pounce on her the moment they see her. Let the child observe the newcomers. She will watch them from the corner of her eye and assess them for a while. After some time, she may herself come close to them or, respond to their friendly gestures. If she does not, let them wait for another opportunity to gain her hand in friendship. In case they have brought her a gift, let it be offered before they leave. If she still remains away from them, keep the gift on the table and draw her attention to it. The chances are that she will pick it up, look at it for a while and then come out of her shell.
10. At this age, children are normally afraid of sudden noises. The whistle of the pressure cooker or the sound of a vacuum cleaner may frighten them. This is normal. Do not become unduly anxious about these fears. Just calmly explain their source and after a couple of months, they will get over this fear. Similarly, your child may start shrieking the moment you pour water on her head. Take it easy. Let her sit in the bathtub in your presence. Pour water on her head or let her pour it herself. If she is still afraid, let her watch you bathing. Don't give her a head bath for a few days; just pour a little water on her body. You may soon be able to help her get over her fear. With such an approach, she is likely to come around faster, than when you try to force the issue.
Source: Book - Guide to Child Care - by Dr R K Anand