As our son grows up, we hear more and more about this situation which can safely be called: 2 year old syndrome. People warn us to be preapared for a more rebellious child. He won't listen to us and he will try to do what he wants to do.
Actually, I can observe the early signals of this syndrome at the age of 1,5 -especially when we call him to have his meal. Sometimes, if he is really hungry, he listens to us and comes to have his meal. But more than sometimes, he keeps what he is doing and completely ignores our calls. But I know that he understands us. He just won't listen.
People say that this is a typical situation and kids try to prove that they're individuals too, as they develop more and more self cognition. This sounds like a very reasonable explanation but a TED video I just watched made me wonder. There might be some other parameters working in this phase, too.
In the video Mrs. Rebecca Saxe talks about the region of the brain where we judge other people. And this region develops as we grow. Her subject was actually about moral judgement, but what she showed was that, how we evaluate and understand a situation differs as we grow up. There's a 5 year old boy in the video who can understand a story and derive a more conclusion, and there's a 3 year old boy who can't grasp and evaluate the sitution properly and sticks to what he thinks is right.
So perhaps, this 2 year old syndrome is not about trying to be individual. Perhaps the child doesn't intend to rebel against his parents, but simply can't properly evaluate the situation. The kid is playing and enjoying his time, and then this guy he calls dad comes and interrupts his game for what - for this boring activity he calls eating. Duh! He can't understand that the food thing is not for his dad's pleasure but for his own good.
If you can't see the video, you can watch it here.