How To Handle The “Terrible Twos”
How To Handle The “Terrible Twos”
You’re going to hear this word a lot, especially from your toddler who is just turning 2 years old. This age may be accompanied by tantrums, whether at home or in public, that could drive you to your wit’s end.
The “Terrible Twos”, as it is called even though this phase sometimes appears anytime from before 12 months up to 4 years old, may not be the most relaxing time with your toddler, but it is an important developmental phase. It is the time when your child is learning the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviour, as well as figuring out their own personality and autonomy.
It can be a trying time, but this is exactly where your child needs you the most. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, especially if you follow these tips:
Soothe, don’t shout
It’s so easy to give in to our frustrations, especially when our children decide to lie on the floor and bawl their lungs out. However, here is where we need to remember that we are the adults in this situation and as such are the ones to teach them the ways they can overcome their frustration.
In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to put yourself in your child’s shoes. For your child, the world is still an unexplored vista that has confusing rules and boundaries. They don’t have all the words yet to express how they feel, so they resort to crying, hitting, or biting.
Resist the urge to shout at your child or worse, physically hurt them back. Yelling at them would make them afraid of talking to you, and ignoring them would create an emotional barrier between you and your child. Instead, sit close and try to soothe them with your words. Try to deter a full-blown tantrum by showing them toys or patiently sitting with them, inviting them to engage with you at their own pace, letting them know that you respect their feelings and personality.
There are times when your toddler will throw a fit because you said “No” to something they want, and it’s so easy to just give in to stop the crying. Here’s where you need to be empathetic to what they’re crying about, but still stand your ground.
Saying “No” to a cute but cranky baby may be difficult, but this is an important part of their development. Learn to mean your “No”s too so that your child will learn what can and cannot be done. It is best to develop a schedule so that your “No”s can translate to something they can parse: No, they cannot eat treats now because it would be lunch soon, but maybe they can have a treat after they eat their lunch. No, they cannot play right now because it’s time to prepare for school, but their toy will be waiting for them when they get home.
Let them sleep (and eat!)
Being firm does not mean depriving them of things they enjoy. In fact, having a schedule and working around that may mean the difference between a peaceful grocery shopping versus a scene at the supermarket.
You may have a task list of your own, but at this time in your toddler’s life, it is best to work around the schedule that works for them. Make sure that you don’t plan activities around nap time, a time when they would be tired and cranky. Also, keep healthy snacks to nibble on so they don’t get very hungry during trips. Sometimes, your child is having a bad mood simply because they cannot express that they are tired or hungry, so it’s up to you to guide them through the process.
For the most part, this development phase is the time when your child is learning how to express themselves. This means helping them find the words to say what they are feeling. Develop a relationship with your child by helping them find the words and connecting their emotions to what is happening in real life. Not only will you promote their emotional smarts as children; you also equip them with EQ that they will need as they grow up.
At the same time, remember to praise your child when they do something right, no matter how small it is. This would reinforce good behaviour and would let the child know that you have noticed their good behaviour. Be proud of them even if it’s just for resisting a cry when they did not get their way, and tell them so. Your children will need your approval their whole lives.
The “Terrible Twos” can be overwhelming for both the child and the parents – what you will need most is a support system that can help you navigate this phase and ensure that your child is also getting the right development support they need. At Brighton Montessori, we value a strong parent-teacher partnership so that whatever the child learns in school is reinforced at home, and vice versa.