Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...


Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...


Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...


The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Declaration of Independence Stage

The period between 12-18 months is often referred to as the ‘declaration of independence’ stage. It is also marked by another characteristic, namely ambivalence. On the one hand, your toddler has an intense desire to move around and explore and interact with his world, due to his newly acquired locomotive and problem solving skills. Yet on the other hand, he may sometimes display the clingy behaviour of the previous stages. This is an indication that he sometimes feel threatened by his new powers and needs limitations in accordance with his capabilities. This requires that mothers take on 2 new roles, those of adviser-educator and authority figure (Leary, 1990).

In order to provide your toddler with effective parenting, you need to love, support, and encourage his and help build his self-esteem, while he tries work out his anxieties created by this internal ambivalence. The 12-18 month period provides the first great educational opportunity during the first year of parenting – helping to solve a problem when your child approaches you. The ability to use another person as a resource to solve problems is a vital educational skill (Leary, 1990).

Unfortunately, the second year of life is often portrayed in negative terms, such as the ‘terrible twos’ and ‘I'll be glad when this stage is over’. In contrast, this is one of the most exciting and meaningful stages of childhood development, even though it may be one of the most challenging and exhausting ones. Toddlers are not negative little people, they are active, positive, developing individuals who know exactly what they want and are determined to meet their needs and desires no matter what the cost (Leary, 1990).

One of the most basic and important features of infant development is that the acquisition of one skill provides the foundation and is necessary for the mastery of more advanced skills. Before your child is able to walk, he is a passive observer of the world around him, and is dependent on others for pleasure and stimulation. Locomotion opens up a whole new world, filled with endless possibilities for exploration and learning. Toddlers have an almost boundless energy, as they attempt to discover their surroundings, make connections between various objects, and learn how things work. They will enthusiastically climb the furniture, open and close doors, unpack cupboards and drawers, push buttons, turn knobs and dismantle objects, only stopping briefly to refuel on love and food (; Leary, 1990; Tresillian Family Care Centres).

How to foster your child’s growing independence

Initially, it is important to become aware of the signals your child gives you that he is ready to start doing things on his own, e.g. when your baby wants something, allow him to try get it himself, don’t hand it to him immediately. Similarly, provide your toddler with a spoon and let him try to feed himself. It is important to begin offering toddlers simple choices, to help them feel in control. For instance, would they like an apple or a pear? Two options are sufficient, because more can become confusing to your child.

A strong sense of self-esteem, is a crucial proviso for the development of independence. Children need to know that they have their parents’ unconditional love and acceptance in order to feel valued. Knowing that they are loved, and that their thoughts and feelings are being validated, provides them with a sense of security and helps to build their confidence. Show your child in simple ways that you care about him, e.g. by taking him for a walk, talking to him and letting him know that you enjoy his company. Express your love for your child and explain why, e.g. 'I love the way you kissed your sister better when she fell and hurt herself’. Praise your child’s accomplishments and notice the things he does without being asked, and comment positively on them. Give specific compliments, such as ‘I’m so proud of the way you helped dress yourself today, you did a good job’ or ‘Thank you for tidying your toys away, you did so well’ (Collins, 2003).

Setting limits

As your child grows, develops and becomes increasingly more independent, it is crucial that he knows the rules and boundaries that you place on his behaviour. Abiding by rules is an essential prerequisite for community living. Rules are also important for the family system, as they allow all family members to live together comfortably. Even babies need to know the meaning of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. For older children, parental enforced limitations provide them with a clear idea of what is expected of them and, at times, something to rebel against (Collins, 2003).

In their explorations, toddlers are largely governed by impulse and trial-and-error, rather than by calculation. Toddlers are not wilfully destructive or disobedient; they merely lack the ability to control their intense impulses. They therefore need some assistance, as they discover the world around them, as well as boundaries and limitations on their behaviour. Parents in the role of authoritarians are faced with the dilemma of establishing a balance between restraint and guidance, without hampering their toddler’s desire to learn and become independent. Invariably a battle of wills ensues, but it needs to be borne in mind that your toddler’s behaviour is both normal and necessary for him to progress to the next developmental level. For parents, the aim is to strike a balance between independence and rules, so that your toddler learns a reasonable amount of self-control, without losing his self-esteem (Collins, 2003; Leary, 1990).