Severe behavior problems in toddlers can present a serious challenge for parents. Most individuals who embark on their parenting journey are ill-prepared to cope with a very strong-willed child. Over time, such a child can drain a parent both physically and emotionally, leading to serious consequences such as abuse or depression in parents. It is very important for parents to understand the modus operandi of a very strong-willed toddler, though some behavior problems may be indicative of an underlying disorder.
About Severe Behavior Problems in Toddlers
Severe behavior problems may sometimes be an issue of relevance. A parent with three otherwise well behaved children may be shocked when her fourth child is born with a stubborn attitude. This child, in comparison to her previous three, may be considered to have "severe" behavior problems. However, the word severe really should refer to a child who is unresponsive to disciplinary measures, inconsiderate of authority, and socially dysfunctional. Severe behavior includes more than just a daily tantrum. Toddlers with severe problems are children who are almost totally our of control, and the parents are often wrought with grief and fatigue over their child.
Children exhibiting such behavior may need to be evaluated by a pediatrician or psychologist merely to rule out conditions like autism. This is not to say that most poorly behaved toddlers are autistic. In fact, in only a few cases will autism present itself as the culprit. Moreover, autism will usually manifest itself in a variety of strange symptoms which may alert parents early on to the idea that there is more at play in their child than simply a stubborn will.
When autism or some sort of medical or communication disorder is not behind your child's behavior, a more in-depth psychological approach is necessary.
The act of establishing authority over your child is easier said than done. This is because some parents naturally adopt a tone and presence of authority; whereas other parents inherently fail to do so after their child's birth. The latter group of parents will not have an easy time learning to take on an authoritative role. Their inability to do so will have very deleterious consequences upon a strong-willed child.
Every child is different. Moreover, every child seems to be born with an innate predisposition to certain behavioral traits. Any parent of twins or multiples will shoot down the idea that children are born as blank slates, whose personalities are shaped by their environment and experiences beginning at birth. A set of twins may be born exhibiting entirely different dispositions from the moment of their birth, and herein lies the difficulty.
Some children are born with stronger wills than others. Children who are well-behaved are inherently responsive to authority. They are not essentially feisty and tend to be followers. In order for a society to function well, the bulk majority of its constituents need to be of this category. In contrast, some children are natural born leaders, being endowed with more willpower. This willpower can lead to defiance alongside a natural defense for self-interests.
Some psychologists have attempted to defend the strong-willed child as being more intelligent, but this is not always the case. Many bright children possess a strong will and grow up to be integral political revolutionaries. However, several children of average to below-average intellects will possess the same strong will which, when unharnessed, may lead to criminal behavior.
A parent must, to the best of his ability, temper the will of his toddler early on before the power struggle is won in the child's favor. There are many parenting books that offer advice on how to do just this, though many of these books contradict one another. Such advice may also contradict a parent's parenting philosophy or religion, which can confuse the issue further.
Letting the Experts In
The so-called "experts" aren't always experts in every case. Still, severe behavior problems in toddlers that continue for months will usually yield parents who need help. Consulting with a psychologist, a pastor, or any experienced individuals in the community who have dealt successfully with such a situation can help tremendously. Parents may need to be open-minded when receiving advice that contradicts their parenting philosophy. After all, a poorly behaved child can be ruinous to a family, a marriage, and the child's own future, so this situation should not be taken lightly.