There are just a few things that toddlers, and all children for that matter, have control over:
2) Potty Activity
We can't make our children sleep. We can tell them, "you can lay down and have rest time" but you can't tell them to go to sleep and force it. We can make them stay in their bed, well, for the most part we can, but that's a whole other issue.
We can't make our children go to the bathroom either. We can have them sit on the potty, but they control what comes out :)
And eating. We can't control what they eat and force it down their little throats. We know how that can end if we keep it up.
Pushing some of these things can only go so far. We can try and ask, but in the end they are the ones to make the final decision. It depends on your parenting style, but we know if things get pushed too much, hello temper tantrum!!
So what to do?
Not an easy answer. Yikes, this can really turn into a full discussion of over 100 pages worth, like, "well, if I fix one thing for dinner and they don't like it, then what do we do?" Lots of decisions and what to do. Or, "what if my child won't stay in her bed and leaves and comes out each night and won't sleep. Then she'll be sleep deprived and a monster at school."
Yeah, like I said, not an easy answer.
But I think that setting a limit to your standards and sticking too it, is the best way to go. You have to look at your parenting style BUT, try what you can to not get into a power struggle. One of the reasons children misbehave and want a power struggle is for more control.
I always go back to the 'feelings' part of disciple, like in the book, How to Talk So You're Kids Will Listen... Acknowledging their feeling, so that they are heard, setting your rule, and then letting it go.
For instance in this example this can be with an older child or a toddler: Fix them dinner and then if they eat most but refuse some:
"I can see how you are feeling frustrated because I am asking you to eat your broccoli, and I know you don't like it. But I want to make sure you eat some veggies to make you healthy and strong! Maybe tomorrow night, you will like some of the veggies we will have for dinner." And not push it. You can also give them choices as well, since I LOVE choices, but stick to 2. That way they have some control.
And not to get into a huge topic of eating problems, but research has shown that parents who are too too controlling, have been shown to create more eating disorders in children. These kids have no control in their life so they do the one thing they CAN control, eating.
And pushing the pooping issue, is not a good thing either. They will keep it in, and it can cause constipation issues, not to mention the power struggles it comes with it and prolongs potty training.
But back to control, the best thing to do is put yourself in your child's shoes. Yes, they may only be 2, but they are still little beings with feelings. We need to think, hmm, if someone forced me into bed and told me I better sleep! how would I feel? Not so happy and pretty upset with that person. So keep that in mind, reflect, reflect, reflect those feelings, give choices and set limits accordingly. Easy enough? Yeah, I know, but then again who said parenting was easy :)