Healthy Defiance in Toddlers

by Ann Douglas

healthy defianceDon't assume you're raising a diva just because your toddler gives you a withering stare or stomps out of the room when you ask her to pick up her toys. She's simply letting you know that she feels confident enough in herself and in the relationships she has with you to play the autonomy card every now and again, according to Theodore Dix, associate professor of human development and family science at the University of Texas at Austin.

"We found that, at this age, defiance appeared to be a positive development," says Dix. He headed up a team of researchers from the University of Austin at Texas and the University of Michigan, who researched this issue and reported on their findings in the psychological journal, Child Development.

The study results indicate that when parents first ask young children to follow requests, it's natural for them to resist. This resistance does not indicate that there's anything wrong with the parent-child relationship or that the child's development is off track.

It actually indicates quite the opposite -- that the child feels confident in her ability to exercise control over those closest to her and that she is prepared to do just that.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

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