Teaching a toddler who is boss involves working with him, rather than against him.

How to Teach a Toddler Who's the Boss

by Jeremi Davidson

Dealing with a toddler is an eventful experience, as this is when a child begins developing a mind of his own. He will start becoming more independent at this point in his life, which means he could begin questioning your authority. While this is a perfectly normal developmental behavior, according to Ask Dr. Sears, it is frustrating for parents. It is important that parents set boundaries and stay consistent, as this helps prevent a toddler from becoming overly defiant.

Listen to your child's feelings. While it is easy to ignore what your child has to say and immediately force her to do what you please, listen to what she wants as well. If you can let her know that you understand where she is coming from, it can help her to manage her emotions, suggests Zero to Three. If the child feels ignored, it is more likely that she will talk back and become defiant as a method of getting your attention.

Set the limit for your child. You should do this before things escalate, so that he knows what is expected of him. If you want your child to get ready for bed, explain that he get enough rest so that he can play in the morning. Keep the message short and to the point, suggests Zero to Three.

Offer multiple options that have a similar outcome. When getting your child ready for bed, ask if she wants to brush her teeth before or after you read her a story. This can reduce defiance, as you are allowing your child to make the decision on her own.

Enforce the limits that you have set. If your child fights getting ready for bed, calmly place him in his crib or bed. This is the point where you eliminate his options, as he must do what you want, notes Zero to Three. Speak in a soothing tone to deescalate the situation, which can help you avoid a tantrum.

Do not give in to your child. In most cases, the child will fight you as you attempt to impose a limit. If she gets her way after fighting back, she will learn to expect this outcome when she throws a fit. This makes it more difficult to set and enforce limits the next time. If you can stick with your limit the first time, it should get easier, according to Zero to Three.


  • Learn to say "yes" to your child as much as you say "no" to encourage healthy development.

About the Author

Jeremi Davidson began freelance writing in 2005. Davidson enjoys writing about sports and personal fitness, contributing to a number of different health and lifestyle websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Thompson Rivers University.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images