You are having trouble with your two-year-old tot, aren’t you? That is exactly the reason why you are reading this post. Don’t worry. We will help you understand more about your toddler and share with you this parenting guide on how to deal with this behavior.
First of all, we want to assure you that you are not alone in this type of experience. “Terrible two” is a phrase often described by parents and even pediatricians by two-year-old toddlers, and there’s a reason why – they really can get really terrible (but still cute) at this age.
Understanding the “terrible two” behavior
“Terrible two” is a phase a child undergoes, usually around two years of age. However, there is no definite age for this phase to occur in your child. According to Healthline, terrible-two can be described as toddlerhood that occurs between ages 1-3, when your child is full of intellectual, physical, and social growth.
What causes “terrible twos”
Between the age of 1-3, your child begins to learn walking, talking, sharing, having their own opinions, and recognizing their emotions. They love to explore and do things on their own terms. That is when the trouble begins – they want to do things on their own terms and it overwhelms us.
Here’s more. They are at the stage of developing their physical, and verbal, skills. So when they try to perform any task and they cannot do it well, they get frustrated. They also get impatient when they are not able to do what they want to do right away. As children are still developing their communication skills, they are also having a difficult time communicating what they really want or feel.
Finally, at this age, children want your attention. They often act out if they do not get your attention when they want it.
The following are some clear examples of terrible two behavior:
- Screaming while waiting for their turn;
- Throwing tantrums when they cannot clearly say what he/she really feels (like when they are sleepy or hungry);
- Having meltdowns during mealtimes- They probably just want to eat something else, but they don’t know how to express it;
- Getting mad and frustrated when they cannot catch the ball, pour water well, or shooting the ball.
- Spanking another kid when all they want is to borrow what the other kid is playing with.
- Acting out as soon as mom or dad arrives home from work.
How to deal with terrible twos
While this phase is very normal, there are things you can do to deal with their unruly behavior and save yourself some stress. Here is a parenting guide that can help you manage terrible twos:
1. Give your child tender loving attention
Most children at this age act out when they do not get your attention. The tip is to give it to them before they ask for it. Do it in a tender loving way that your child will enjoy. Bond over nightly bedtime stories, afternoon cuddles before naps, weekly cooking or baking, or any activity your child enjoys doing with you.
2. Communicate with your child
Knowing that toddlers cannot clearly communicate what they feel or want, engage in a conversation with them. Ask what is making them feel mad or angry and be sure to validate their feelings. Tell them in a calm manner when you are not happy with certain unruly behavior and why. Even when your child is not grumpy, constantly find time to talk to him/her. Through communication, you learn to understand your child more and find ways to minimize misbehavior.
3. Make a schedule
Make a regular schedule for your toddler, especially in eating and sleeping. Know that your child can easily get mad when they are hungry or tired, so make sure they eat regularly and get their needed sleep.
4. Create simple rules and make them understand
Toddlers can begin to undergo training and they understand rules at this time. Since their understanding is still limited, create them as you go along daily activities and make them simple and easy to understand. Here are some helpful examples:
- “We are going to the grocery, but we will not be getting any treat for you yet because we still have some here at home. I know you understand that and won’t cry even if you don’t get a treat, right?”
- “We will go to the playground later, but be careful not to push or shove anyone, okay? We want other kids to also have fun in the playground and not get hurt.”
5. Be consistent
Be consistent with the rules and routines that you make. Children can better follow and behave well with consistency. If you are not consistent, children can get confused and may think that the rules you are setting are not really rules after all. Be consistent by not giving in when your child starts to act out. It can be tempting, but it will only get worse if you tolerate their unacceptable behavior.
6. Acknowledge good deeds
Make it a habit not to praise your child right away. Instead, praise the “deed”. Be specific about what you are happy about. This way, your child will better understand what exactly he/she has done right. It will help motivate your toddler to do the right thing next time. For example, you can tell your child “Good job! You patiently waited for your turn to play the swing” or “I’m very happy you shared your doll with your friend”. Those specific statements are better than simply saying “You are such a good girl!” or “Good job!”.
7. Be a good model and remain calm
You don’t want your child spanking others or screaming when mad? Then avoid spanking your child or yelling at your child (or anyone at all). Children easily follow your lead and are such great sponges when it comes to behavior and manners. Try to remain calm as much as possible. Do deep breathing when you think you are overwhelmed.
Other parenting guide and tips to deal with terrible twos include the following:
- Create a diversion when your child starts to act, such as pointing out something funny. Sometimes, it may even help if you act funny and make silly faces.
- Keep away the stuff you don’t want them to be playing with. Toddlers are very curious and it is better to keep your home safe and accidents.
- Allow your child to have some control and make some choices to make him/her more cooperative in certain situations. For example, ask your child to choose what book to read for your bedtime story or what color of shirt to wear for the playdate.
Speaking of bedtime stories, check out this fascinating book called The Secret Garden of N. It is a delightful children’s story about friendship, adventure, and imagination.
You may also want to read the following related posts:
- Managing Children’s Screen Time: Helpful Apps and Other Tips
- How to Get Kids to (REALLY) Listen: 7 Steps for Success – Positive Parenting Solutions
- Parenting Tips in the time of the Lingering Crisis