As a child grows up, they learn to construct their identity and assert themselves as a person in their own right. After "listening to you just once", they show you that it is them that decides! It's not easy to know when you should give in and when you should grant them what they want.
From the first separation to the development of independence.
At around 8 months, a child becomes aware of their individuality and of that of their mother. This is a source of worry and they cry when you leave them or when they make new acquaintances. This is "known as separation anxiety". They then become gradually aware of the concept of otherness. At around 18 months, your baby recognises themselves in the mirror and sees themselves whole: a decisive stage in the formation of their "self". It is also the start of the "no" phase. When you ask them to take their bath (which they usually love), to put their coat on, to eat their mashed potato, they say no every time. Rest assured. This stage marks the assertion of authority rather than genuine refusal. Your baby has become aware of their individuality and wants to let you know! Until now it was you that decided for them but they now have their own opinion! A glimpse of the teenage years to come perhaps…
How to react
Without granting your child all they want every time, you should listen to their demands, as they show that your child is developing normally. If they refuse to let you help them get dressed, bear in mind that to begin with it will take a little time but later on it will save a lot of time! To make it easier for your child, choose clothes that are easy to put on (with no buttons or zips), shoes that slip on (without laces), plastic cutlery so they can eat on their own.
You should always remain consistent - you should not forbid something that you permitted the day before, and vice versa – and firm in your decisions, without getting het up. Taking a bath is necessary whether your child likes it or not. It is up to you as parents to define and apply the rules. If your child wants to get dressed by themselves then that's fine as long as they put their coat on because it's cold outside. If they want to stay on the swing for five more minutes then that's fine also but mum will stay next to them and in five minutes it really will be time to go.
Each time you introduce your child to a new dish, you get the same answer: "No, I don't want it, I don't like it!" Between 2 and 10 years, an estimated 75% of children have this type of reaction which is known as food neophobia.
It is natural for children to only want to eat what they like, but it is important that they eat a balanced diet. Forcing your child will not solve anything, just the opposite! If they refuse to eat fish and meat, you can get around it by making a baked dish with meat in or mixing it in with vegetables.
Setting an example is also very important. Not only do you eat green beans but you love them! Another tip, go shopping together and get your child to help you cook the food you chose together. They will be proud of their accomplishment and will eat it down to the last bite.
Nicola, Celia's mum:
"At the age of 2 my daughter decided that she wanted to choose which clothes to wear every day, so we came to an agreement. I said yes as long as she took one item of clothing from each of the piles that I laid out. That way, whatever she chooses, at least I'm sure that they go together!"
"My daughter has always been fussy about her food. The weaning stage went very badly and all she's done since is pick at her food. I only make her what she likes and I adapt to her tastes which only include pasta, salmon, green beans, cheese spread and chocolate pudding! I try to cheat by adding minced meat to the pasta, melting cheese in vegetable purées and adding a few carrots to the green beans. By varying in this way it doesn't put her off and will enable her to get used to other foods gradually."
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