photo: Children’s Museum

The first time you witness your toddler yank a toy away from another child and yell, “mine!” you know the parenting tides have turned. It’s time to lay down the law and set some boundaries — but at what point are you taking rules and expectations too far? According to a recent study, sooner than you might think. Keep reading to learn why you might be going too hard on your toddler.

In a survey of parents with young kids, researchers at Zero To Three found a major gap between parent’s expectations of their toddler’s behavior and what child development experts believe toddlers are actually capable of.

For example, the survey conducted found that 43 percent of parents believe their toddlers should be able to take turns and have no problem sharing a toy before age two. The truth, however, is that most kids have trouble relinquishing an object well past the ages of 3 and 4.

The ability to follow rules and control impulses, as well as controlling emotions, were other skills a large percentage of parents believed toddlers should have. Experts, however, agreed that most toddlers were still developing those skills.

The bottom line is, when your two-year-old jumps on the bed despite your repeated demand not to, or when he cries because he doesn’t want to give up his sand toys to other kids at the playground, it doesn’t mean he’s not listening and learning. With a little more time and practice, enforcing rules will get easier. Until the teenage years of course. Then all bets are off.

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Does this surprise you? Tell us in the comments!