Understanding your child's defiant behavior is the first step to knowing how to handle it! This is the 'sequel' to my previ...

Understanding your child's defiant behavior is the first step to knowing how to handle it!

This is the 'sequel' to my previous post: Handling my 16 mo screaming toddler. She's now 17 mo, still screaming but lesser I think, or maybe my ears are immune to the screams (haha). I've been trying different ways to tackle the screaming; sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Anyhow, here are some of the ways I've been using:

Talk, talk, talk.... A LOT

She can now say a few more words like some of her body parts, certain shapes, some animals/the sounds they make, and even point to the things that I mentioned. I noticed she has been observing my lips and trying to imitate some of the words or at least the sound of it every time I talk to her. 

My tactic: Just go on talking (and yes, sometimes I do feel like I'm a recorder on repeat mode or talking to the air...Lol). Describe what I'm doing, how's my day so far, about the weather, what I'm gonna cook etc etc. Some might say how can she understand, but hey, if it'll help to improve her speaking skills, why not? The faster she learns to speak, the easier she can communicate and tell me what she wants, and by looking at her facial expressions/responses, I believe she does understand some of the things I said. Nothing our little ones learn is more important than speech. The more we talk to them, the more they will understand things and talk themselves.


I know some parents might not agree to exposing children to digital technology at such a young age but the world of gadgets has flourished incredibly rapidly that I don't think it's possible to avoid it altogether. In fact, some of the videos and apps can help kids learn alphabets and numbers in a much more interesting way. Therefore, I think it all comes down to finding a meeting point. 

My LO loves music. She's always dancing and humming when she hears music. I can always hear her humming the tunes of some of the nursery rhymes recently. Though she can't sing the exact words yet, she will do the actions like what she saw in the videos. 

Scenario: When she screams for no apparent reason.

My tactic: Start singing "The mommy on the bus says 'Shh shh shh~ shh shh shh~" A short while later, she'll put her finger over her mouth and join me with the 'Shh shh shh'. When she starts throwing stuffs and refuses to pick them up, I'll sing the clean up song. So.... yes, mommy has to learn singing the rhymes too, besides doing a THOUSAND chores! (Yet, some people still think that SAHMs are so free, sitting at home shaking legs -_-)

'Play dead'

Scenario: When she screams/refuses to sleep/makes a fuss during her nap time.

My tactic: Bring her to the room, play the lullaby, put her on the bed, lie down beside her and simply 'play dead'. After some time, she will either be influenced, or get bored since she's not getting any response and eventually falls asleep when her internal clock kicks in. 

Why it works? I put her to nap at about the same time every afternoon (whenever we are at home), without fail. I'll bring her to the room, play the same lullaby that I've been playing for her since she was a baby and make sure she sleeps, so, her mind-body is used to the sleep cycle. This is why I said it's important to stick to a daily routine in my last post. It not only makes them feel more secured, in control and comforted, mommy will also have some time to do her own things, think/prepare for dinner, have some peace, or even to rest and nap together.

Bring her to a mirror

Scenario: Non stop crying/whining and the singing didn't work.

My tactic: Pick her up, ask her to look into the mirror and say, "Oh dear. Look who's that ugly baby crying so much that tears are all over the face and mucus dripping down her nose like waterfall?" This takes a bit of time. She will refuse to look at first, but after some persistent persuasion, she will turn, look, calm down and start smiling.

Why it works? Well, my LO is quite a vainpot (just like her mommy lol!). I always see her standing in front of the mirror, smiling/posing/dancing. 

'Talk' to a third party aka her favorite toy

Scenario: Throwing a fit for no apparent reason and pushes me away when I try to hold her.

My tactic: Pick up her favorite toy, which is her plush Minnie Mouse doll, and say, "See, Minnie doesn't simply cry/scream/whine/throw things for no reason. That is a good baby, right? If there is something you want, you can tell or point to me. Do you want a hug or a kiss?" After some time, she'll stand up, walk over and say, "Hug".

When she's not throwing tantrums, she's very lovable; always giving hugs and planting kisses on my face :D

Cut down on saying "NO" and give lotsa praises

A positive thought: Toddlers want parents to be pleased with them so they can feel safe and pleased with themselves. A child may behave badly because: 

  • he/she doesn't know what the parent want, 
  • he/she isn't capable of doing something, 
  • he/she sometimes does what he/she wants instead of what he/she should. 
It won't be because he/she intends to be mean or upset the parent. Not ever. They are not matured enough yet to think into our shoes. So, if we parents keep this in mind, it'll help us to understand their difficult behavior and channeling it in a positive direction.

My tactic: When she pulls all the clothes that I've just folded, play with the hangers when I'm trying to hang/bring in the clothes, put certain stuffs on the floor (sometimes she'll put them back but sometimes she'll just leave them lying on the floor), try to wipe the table with tissues which is already dirty etc, I know she's probably trying to imitate or help me with the chores. Instead of saying 'No' (which will lead to screaming/crying), I'll pretend to ask for her help. For e.g.: Ask her to pass me a piece of clothing that is within my reach, pass the hangers over for me to hang, hold some clothing for me, pick up things for me, tell her she should not leave things on the floor because someone might step on it and fall, hand her a clean tissue and explain why she shouldn't use the dirty one. When she does any of that, I'll praise her for being such a good girl and give her a kiss. She will be so happy and at times, she will even clap her hands after she puts something back. 

Well, I know that when I ask for her help, I might end up doing the work twice but I can also look at it as a good way to start training her so she can and is willing to help me with household chores in future :). Always remember that we can't make a child good by making him/her feel bad. Know that they mean well overall even when they haven't done well. Often, we only react when bad behavior flares up but forget to praise the good behavior in between.


What helps parents often is to realize that children aren't born knowing how to behave. They don't come with an instruction manual to teach parents what to do with them either. I'm still learning and finding new methods everyday as there will always be new surprises. Lol. But I guess that's what make parenting challenging and interesting, isn't it? And of course, when it comes to discipline and safety issues, I still stand firm, no compromise whatsoever.

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