The Contrary world of a child Have you ever felt like tearing your hair out when your child vacillates between 'yes' and 'no?' Shivani, a mother of two, says, All the time! My 3-year-old son can't make simple decisions, let alone slightly complex ones. He'll want toast for breakfast and when I get him the toast, he'll want cereal. When that is brought to him, he'll want a third item or sometimes even go back to the first one. It is really frustrating! At times, when I get really irritated, I just refuse to give him anything and he just dissolves into tears.

This is a phenomenon faced by nearly all parents. Is a child trying to drive his mother crazy by saying yes, no, or maybe or is he being indecisive? It's neither. This is normal for toddlers as they are still developing a sense of self and individuality. By the time a child reaches the age of two - he starts craving for control and sometimes this need comes out as contrariness. He will sense what his parent wants and then decide not to do it or do the opposite. He is also too young to be sure about what he wants and this leads to the 'yeses' and 'nos.' Adults with no understanding of this kind of behaviour often mislabel children as being fussy, indisciplined, attention seeking, or indecisive. What most parents see in their child as stubbornness can be understood as determination, if viewed from the child's perspective.
Toddler hood is an age when the child's concept of self is emerging. The child is coming to terms with his or her own desires, wants, and thoughts. This is what we understand as ""will"". How to express this will, is learning how to make decisions. These may be small decisions about the business of everyday living for us, but big enough for our young children. Since the ability to make a decision is not always inherent, children have to learn how to assess situations and take control. Having many options to choose from may be overwhelming for them resulting in the shutdown of the decision making process. You, as a parent, can help your child to be confident. Start with small decisions such as what to wear to playschool or what toy to play with. Giving only two or three options will give him some control in making the decision without overwhelming him with too many choices. Don't give her options in things which are mandatory and unavoidable. For instance, when it comes to consuming the soup or the green vegetables.
Parents always have the compelling urge to make the choice for their children at the first sign of indecisiveness. Resist. Don't lay out your child's playschool clothes in the morning. Let him choose from a couple of outfits. Tell him the positives and negatives of both. His choice will teach him the concept of decision-making and will also give him a sense of control.
Unless your child makes a decision that is destructive, allow him the freedom to experience the consequences of his actions. For instance, if he decides not to eat his dinner, he suffers the consequence of not eating his dessert.
Boost your child's confidence by praising his decisions. ""You made a good choice by choosing the beige trousers"" or ""Your choice of eating cereal instead of chocolate is a good one"" are good ways of doing this. Resist from criticizing. If you think he has made a wrong choice, don't scold him. Try to explain to him why the decision he has made won't work and steer him towards the right one.
Being able to make one or two right choices will not make a child more confident or help him achieve a total sense of control. He has to practice this ability in all aspects of his life. Choosing who his friends are or what he eats for breakfast will provide him the groundwork for making more decisions in the future. Ultimately, a child has to learn to trust and rely on what he believes to be the right decision.