Baby crying on bed

A Nanny’s Guide to Handling a Headstrong Toddler

Published on: Wed 07, July, 2021
Nanny and toddlers doing a fun and creative activity

Every toddler goes through phases where things feel a bit too much to handle. Some toddlers are naturally headstrong, which can be a trait that can serve them well in the future. As their nanny though, this can pose a challenge for the time being. Don’t fret! We got your back.

Set a Schedule

Following a schedule is an effective way to help your toddler understand discipline. The value of consistency will grow in them and help them control any feelings of uneasiness when told to do something for their own benefit. Set a daily routine, which will include breakfast, lunch, snacks, nap time, dinner, playtime, etc. Remind them in advance when the time has come to switch activities. You can use phrases such as ‘five more minutes before dinner, so we’ll be cleaning up your toys soon.’ Consider their mood when prompting a change in activity. Any abrupt changes can be the perfect setting for a tantrum, which is best avoided. Be firm yet considerate.

Provide a Choice

Speaking of coming in too strong, being commanding and using phrases such as ‘You have to do this…’ or ‘Get that…’ can elicit a negative reaction from your toddler. When a toddler is headstrong, chances are they know and have a grasp of what they want, and when they want it. This doesn’t mean though that you can give in to their decisions. You are still, and should be, in command. You can have a workaround that is effective in these kinds of situations. Give them a choice! For example, if the task at hand is cleaning up after playtime, you can ask them which place they would want to start cleaning first. If you need them to take a bath, you can ask, ‘Would you like to bring your toy boat or your action figures?’ Through this method, you both win! You accomplish what you need to do without removing the control from them.

Nanny feeding toddler.

Set Consequences

It is good practice to openly discuss with your toddler the consequences of not doing something. It gives them a sense of control over what will happen if they make a certain decision. There will still be times that they will defy directions but, at this point, they know and understand the effect of this choice. Let them comprehend that if they refuse to eat their vegetables, they will not have the energy they need to play later. Further down the line, they will soon obey more, because they are aware of what will happen if they don’t.

Allow Them To Feel

Headstrong toddlers are sensitive to the feeling of not being understood. Since they know what they want, they can also detect you disregarding their emotions. This is a bad formula and can arouse the worst tantrums. Let them talk. Allow them to express their feelings and genuinely lend an ear. This is a very encouraging way of letting them explore their sentiments.

There is nothing wrong with headstrong kids, nor is there anything intimidating. You just have to identify where they are coming from and empathise. This is the start of being able to handle them and their episodes. Keep in mind that you don’t want to twist their characteristics and behaviour. What you would like to happen is to channel positive behaviour and help them to mould their reactions towards positive attitudes. 

If you are interested in learning more about this, visit our International Nanny Institute where you will find a wide array of courses to enhance your curriculum and improve your career.