Radha came to visit me with her 2 ½ years old son Ravi. Before I could offer Radha a seat and say Hello to Ravi, Ravi attacked my side board. He picked up a glass jar and threw it hard on the ground. I got shocked and Radha felt very sorry about Ravi’s destructive behaviour. She tried to spank him saying ‘that is the reason, I do not take you to anybody’s house. You are so unpredictable’. I held Radha’s hand and said, ‘Ravi let us clean up the broken pieces.’ I collected the broken pieces together with a broom and wiped the place with a wet piece of newspaper. Rave kept watching me standing quietly near the side boar.


In order to avoid any further embarrassment I decided to take Radha and Ravi to the nearby park. Ravi helped me in packing some biscuits and a ball in a bag. He carried the bag as we walked quietly. In the park we paid full attention to Ravi. Watched and talked about some birds and played with the ball. Every time Ravi threw the ball to me, I looked towards him with appreciative eyes. In no time we became friends and enjoyed each other’s company. After a while Radha and Ravi walked back home in silence. Soon after Radha came alone and said, ‘we must buy a similar jar and replace it. We really do not know what to do with the little tyrant. Of course at home he is only allowed to play with his own toys and not anything else. We do keep a control on him and do not trust him with the glassware, Chinaware and other breakable things”.


I could well imagine by the tone of voice and by action of Radha and her husband that how inept and inferior they consider Ravi. Their constant instructions ‘Do not do this; Do not touch this, you may break this; Do not run fast, you may fall’ – not only underestimate Ravi’s ability to handle things aptly but cause so much frustrations in his mind that the moment he finds himself free of control he explodes his pent up energy like a volcano.


Do you know, Radha about all that Ravi learnt yesterday. (1) He got the opportunity to test his strength. He found out that he has the ability to throw a jar hard on the ground. He felt a sense of achievement. (2) He discovered that the jar is made up of a breakable material. (3) The broken pieces of glass must be picked up and thrown into the dustbin.


Radha looked at me surprisingly and said, ‘but what about the loss of a beautiful jar. You cannot get the same in India.’ I said, ‘please relax and listen to me. Ravi is a toddler. He must just emerged out triumphantly from the struggle of babyhood. Now he is a competent walker and talker. Physically, he is becoming more independent of you all the time. Emotionally, he is capturing the feeling of ‘Autonomy’. In many different ways, he is trying to convey that he is his own person. He can do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He has a mind of his won. Therefore, any resistance or interference to divert his attention from your side is bound to make him rebellious. He is bound to defy, resist, protest and resent your attitude go against his will.


Now knowing the nature and needs and the purpose of his various moods and behaviour pattern, you may practice the following skills to help him grow according to his natural plan of growth and avoid pitfalls.


Skill to practice:

  1. Never do for Ravi what he can do for himself. Give him his meal as through you expected him to eat it and enjoy it quite naturally; and leave him alone. Let him have a reasonable amount of time to eat his food and then, if he is obviously not interested or starts to play, simply remove it. Forcing a toddler to eat everything on his plate will lessen his appetite and create ill feeling. Avoid giving him nick nacks in between the meals. His refusal to eat should not upset you. His mealtime should be pleasant and relaxing.


  1. Fit his environment to his needs. Provide space for running, jumping and climbing. A step stool to reach wash basin dinning table, low hooks to cloths, low shelves to keep things, light and small table and chair which he can easily move from one place to another. Water to splash, clay to model, crayons to draw and many more such things which help him to test his strength and innovative, abilities. Cherish with him, his achievements. Judgements like good, bad, nice should be avoided. Feeling of happiness should be shared with a hug and a kiss.


  1. As soon as Ravi demonstrates a desire to do things on his own, you must take advantage of it and let him go ahead when ever possible. It is more important to ‘encourage’ the dawning sense of initiative than to be concerned about priorities or mistakes. Emphasis on mistakes is disastrous. It directs the child’s attention from positive to negative and discourages the toddler to go ahead independently. ‘Accept’ each sign or initiative with appreciative eve contact, a hug and a kiss.


  1. Accept Ravi’s defiant feelings without making him feel guilty and channel his defiant acts into acceptable outlets. Tantrums are the single most violent behaviour of this very turbulent period of toddlerhood in a child’s development. The cause may be trivial such as not being able to pull his socks or tiredness. Leave the toddler to get on with it alone, but stay close or take him away and begin conversing about pleasant things or help him to complete the job.


  1. Avoid drastic changes. If you have to go out to work and leave your toddler with a friend or relative or maid, or send him to a nursery school, it is important for the toddler to get used to the new person and the new place by gradual steps. A toddler in this period needs a long time to adjust to each of these changes separately.


Acceptance and encouragement are the most important aspects of child raising.  Acceptance acts like a fertile soil that permits a tiny seed to develop into the lovely flower, it is capable of becoming. The soil only ‘enables’ the seed to become the flower. It releases the capacity of the seed to grow. Acceptance enables the child to actualise his potentials. Encouragement acts nutrients. Just as a plant needs water to grow, each child needs continuous encouragement to grow, develop and gain a sense of belonging. Lack of encouragement can be considered the basic cause for misbehaviour in a child.’


As I finished talking I found Radha retrieving the broken pieces of the glass jar from the dustbin. ‘What for?’ I asked her. ‘I shall reconstruct the glass jar with araldite.’ She gave me a warm hug and left with wet eyes saying it was she who broke the glass jar and not Ravi.


Sampuran Jeet


Early Childhood Development

 Edited by:

Vijay Bajpai