Who's the Boss -- You or Your Toddler?

If your toddler acts like he's calling the shots, these smart strategies will (gently) let him know you're in charge.

A Little Rebel

Young blonde boy crying

Andrew Parsons

Sometime after his first birthday, your sweet, calm child may morph into a little rebel. He'll kick and scream when you try to lift him onto the changing table. He'll refuse to sit at the dinner table. He'll throw a fit the minute you take out his toothbrush. And you'll wonder, "What happened?"

The simple answer: "Toddlers want to be in charge of their world, so their refusal to do things is all about control, control, control," says Ari Brown, MD, Parents advisor and author of Toddler 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Toddler.

The daily battles that come with raising a 1-year-old can be maddening for even the most patient mom -- unless you know how to defuse them.

Toddler Challenge: Diaper Changes

Why she resists: Toddlers may not even notice a wet or dirty diaper, and they're too busy to sit quietly while you put on a new one.

Get her to agree: "Ask whether she wants to be changed lying down or standing up," suggests Cathryn Tobin, MD, author of The Parent's Problem Solver. "This makes her feel like she's making the decision." You might also distract her by playing a game (such as Patty Cake) or by talking about something she loves (Elmo, anyone?). Another smart strategy: Set aside a special toy that she can play with only when she's on the changing table.

Toddler Challenge: Brushing His Teeth

Why he resists: Your child hates having things forced into his mouth (wouldn't you?). And if he's teething, the bristles can be painful to his tender gums.

Get him to agree: Offer to take turns: Let your child brush your teeth (with your brush) if he'll let you work on his afterward. Or try having him look in the mirror while you brush. Seeing what's going on makes the process more entertaining than annoying. You can also try using some toddler toothpaste (which tastes good and contains no fluoride).

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