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There’s a good reason your toddler is having tantrums

It might seem like they’re defying you, but acting out is an important step in the journey to find their own identity, writes Dr David Coleman 

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From around 12 months babies begin to realise that they are separate from their mother. Picture posed

From around 12 months babies begin to realise that they are separate from their mother. Picture posed

From around 12 months babies begin to realise that they are separate from their mother. Picture posed

We often think of adolescence as the time when children break free of their dependence on their parents and move to independence. But the reality is that all of childhood is a process of developing independence and that process starts at toddlerhood and continues through childhood, adolescence and into young adulthood. The process is called individuation.

Last week’s article about adult children remaining at home was sparked by my wondering if for some of those adults, a failure to individuate may have been the cause of getting stuck at home, in a childlike role, long after it is developmentally appropriate to do so. I thought it might be useful, therefore, to return to my original topic of toddlerhood, to look at how parents can support the process of individuation at the starting point.


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