Bagels and cream cheese. Hepburn and Tracy. Toddlers and unbridled rage. All of them are naturals together. Just ask Kate Steinberg of Brooklyn, NY, about her 2-year-old son, Jack: "One evening he refused to get ready for bed and curled up like a hedgehog. Then I started to pull off his slippers and he became totally hysterical."
Though it sure feels like it, your little darling isn't doing this on purpose (really). Toddlers want things the way they want them when they want them, and they have zero inhibition when expressing their fury. They're also profoundly frustrated by all the skills they haven't yet mastered. (How would you feel if you couldn't put on your own socks?)
Steinberg's solution was to give her son a choice. "I said, 'I'm going to count to three, and if you don't get up, you won't get a bedtime story.' I had to get to three, but then he held out his arms so I could put on his pajamas."
And if you're on the receiving end of a pint-size punch, it's not a bad idea to show your displeasure by speaking sternly or making a face. "When a child finds out that certain things make you mad, it's a good lesson for her," says Henry Shapiro, M.D., medical director of the developmental pediatrics department of All Children's Hospital, in St. Petersburg, FL. Just make sure that you respond immediately to the specific behavior and not to the fact that your child is having a fit. For example, you can say that it's okay to be angry but it's not okay to bite you.