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Q&A:
How should we handle our 22-month-old's screaming fits during diaper or clothing changes?

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Question


Why does my 22-month-old have a fit when we try to change her diaper or her clothes? When she knows we are coming toward her to change her diaper or her clothes, she runs from us screaming, "No!" Sometimes it takes both of us holding her down to get the job done. Why does she do this anWhy does my 22-month-old have a fit when we try to change her diaper or her clothes? When she knows we are coming toward her to change her diaper or her clothes, she runs from us screaming, "No!" Sometimes it takes both of us holding her down to get the job done. Why does she do this and what can we do to remedy this situation?

Answer


Although it can be very frustrating for everyone involved, this is actually pretty common behavior for young toddlers. So I wouldn't worry that there's anything wrong. Several things may be going on here. Let me explore a few of them.

One of the challenges of toilet training is that young children often regard their excrement as a part of their bodies that they're reluctant to get rid of. They don't want to say goodbye to something valuable. You see changing her diaper as a way of getting her clean and more comfortable. She sees changing her diaper as having to part with something that she likes.



Also, children this age are beginning to learn the power of "No!" It becomes their favorite word. While we associate certain emotions with it, they don't—at least not all the time. So you shouldn't take her melodramatic screams of "No!" too personally or literally.



Finally, changing a diaper interrupts what a child is doing. For children with certain temperaments, it can be difficult to get back to playing after a diaper change. (Others have absolutely no difficulty handling this type of distraction. It's probably mostly a matter of genetics.) They become upset not because of the diaper change, but because they have trouble settling down again.



In some ways, your daughter's behavior could be a good thing. Being aware that she has a wet or soiled diaper is a critical step in toilet training. But since she's so upset right now, this isn't a good time to start. She'll just fight against it, leaving everyone even more frustrated.



Instead, give her extra attention and praise when her diaper needs changing. Tell her how happy you are with what she's done. Your goal is to help her shift the emotions she associates with it from fear and protectiveness to pride. Once this happens, she'll start letting you know that she needs changing by coming up to you rather than avoiding you.

 
 
 
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