Around the age of two, the baby learned to say no… and understood how to use it! You have tried to teach him authority and compromise with varying degrees of success, bearing in mind that The Terrible Two was an important, healthy and grounding time for your child. But during the The objection phase should be limited in time and gradually disappear from the age of three, your baby continues to be in constant opposition. When should you be concerned? What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
2 or 3 years: up to what age does the opposition phase last?
While in his diaper, Baby discovers, oh so surprised, that his crying elicits a reaction from you! Sometimes you rush to feed him, sometimes to change his diaper or cuddle him tenderly. This is of course not a provocation in the strict sense.
He won’t really challenge you until around 18 months or 2 years old. Once he has entered his famous opposition phase, Time in which he answers “no” to everything and allows him to develop his personality, very different from yours. Your baby then realizes that he is an individual in his own right, that he can have desires and wills that are different from his parents’, and really wants to test all the autonomy that progressive language acquisition offers him! This stage usually lasts about a year and subsides by the time the child is three years old.
As young parents, we often find ourselves helpless in the face of this new resistance from our child. The important thing to remember is that this is one Time to compromise and set boundaries what begins. While respecting his disagreements and allowing him to express his opinions, we must manage to remind him that we, the parents, have the final say… Which is no small thing! As such, a small child is not really in a “mood”, which implies a real willingness to cause trouble and a certain perversity. A baby doesn’t have the reality principle in mind at all and sticks to the pleasure principle. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t set firm boundaries.
Even though your child starts his resistance phase, reacts to you and you feel that he is trying to provoke you, you must be able to remain calm and explain in a few words why you forbid him to do so. why he should eat his vegetables or why he should go to bed… Of course, There is reason to lose patience but this time will lay a good foundation if it is dealt with peacefully! To help us we can use some techniques:
- to pose open-ended questions where a negative answer is impossible : “Do you prefer to fall asleep with your stuffed animal or a story?” instead of “Would you like to take a nap?” for example ;
- turn opposites into a game: the traditional technique of flying with a spoon, etc.;
- Give him freedom of choice without too many consequences: the color of his sweater, …;
- Encourage him to get used to the fact that the game is almost over before you leave the park or go to bed by reminding him 5 minutes before, 3 minutes before, and then 1 minute before the end.
And we don’t forget to encourage and congratulate him when he says yes! This period is also evidence for your child always need your attentionyour tokens of love and confirmation that you are there for him.
Opposition or oppositional defiant disorder: what is it? What should I do ?
Most often, the opposition phase of children weakens from the age of 3 years. If by the age of 5 or 6 the baby is still very vengeful and his anger exceeds that of children of the same age in degree and frequency, it may be appropriate to discuss this issue with your pediatrician or even a child psychiatrist. These ensure that your child is not affected by a rare neuropsychiatric disorder: oppositional defiance. This behavioral disorder affects 3 to 5% of children and is manifested by:
- failure to respond when authority figures make a request to the child
- very aggressive outbursts of anger where the baby hits, yells, and cries to get what he wants
- provocative behavior towards parents to get their attention
- a systematic refusal to comply with adult requests
- no consideration of possible consequences, no effect of penalties
- a clear desire for revenge if the child was forced into something
As a parent, if you are concerned or feeling overwhelmed, do not hesitate to ask those around you or healthcare professionals for help.