Almost every parent would agree that the toddler power struggle is enough to make them lose their temper and feel exhausted. But what is toddler power struggle all about and why does it happen?

A child, about the age of two, typically has a very little sense of self. As they discover the concept of self as separate from their parents, they eventually learn that there are behaviors that trigger a particular reaction from them. This discovery, thus, creates a sense of power in the toddler. If you find yourself in situations where you can’t make your child listen to you and you end up giving in to what they want, you need to know it’s about time to do something differently.

How to handle toddler power struggles better?

Understand the situation from your toddler’s perspective

We often blame the toddler power struggles on our child, thinking that it is just their behavior and they’re only having tantrums. What many parents fail to understand is the actions of their kids. Before you start yelling, try seeing things from your toddler’s perspective. This way, it becomes easier for you to understand where they are coming from.

For example, consider if you saw them hitting their older sibling with whatever they can get a hold of. Instead of jumping to conclusions, it would be better to talk to your toddler and ask why they are doing it. Maybe they have had enough of their sibling constantly taking their stuff from them. The important thing is to learn how to empathize with your child by looking at things from their perspective.

Offer them choices

The brain of a toddler is constantly in action. When they do things you don’t like and ask them to stop, they are most likely not going to listen. They tend to continue what they are doing to test your reaction. Instead of losing your cool, try to think about all the things you usually fight about with them. Then, think about whether or not offering choices to your kids will work out in these situations.

For example, say that your toddler isn’t a fan of brushing their teeth before bedtime. Instead of forcing the habit of toothbrushing before going to bed, ask them to choose if they want to do it right after dinner or before going to sleep. When offering choices, be sure to offer only two choices. Also stick to choices that are parent-approved.

Stay calm

This is easier said than done, especially when a toddler starts having outrageous tantrums. But trying to master the art of staying calm and not panicking can go a long way. Don’t immediately react to your child’s antics.

When you panic and react automatically, you begin to lose focus. Instead of being as irrational as the child, remain composed and show your toddler that their bad behavior doesn’t warrant a reaction.

Remember that your child is a different person

One of the reasons why parents get upset with their toddler is because they don’t always do as they say. Don’t forget that your child is a different person. So when they do the opposite of what you say, remember that they are not people you can control, especially when it comes to their choices and personalities. Treat them as you would another person in your life, like a spouse, friend or a family member.

Provide rewards and consequences

When using this strategy, it’s important that you know very well what will work for your child. Is a positive or negative consequence more effective? Give them clear instructions on the consequences for doing certain actions. However, it is always better to start with positive reinforcement.

For example, instead of begging them to finish their dinner, offer them a reward, like having an extended playtime at the park on the weekend. The important thing is you deliver what you promise.


A toddler power struggle can be exhausting, but these practical tips can come in handy for all parents struggling in this area. Learn other ways to discipline a toddler by visiting our website, Handprints Academy.