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How to Overcome Those “Terrible Twos”

Watching your child grow can be such a joy, but maybe not so much in that trying stage between one and three! The terrible twos is that legendary age where toddlers are learning the word “no,” and making their opinions about things very clear. Although the behaviors demonstrated don’t necessarily start the day a child turns two and ends the day they turn three, they will pass with persistence and patience.

One thing to know is that just because most children go through this stage of pushing boundaries, it doesn’t mean you give in and let it pass. Think ahead of time of what you might do if your child throws a tantrum, kicks, bites, or does something unacceptable. This will not only allow you to be prepared and not think in a hasty way, but to be consistent in your actions as well.

Tackling the tantrum

When the “terrible” of the “terrible twos” kicks in, it is important that you remain calm or else the tantrum might escalate. It is always best to ignore bad behavior and not give any reaction. Sometimes once the child realizes that they’re not getting a reaction that he or she wants then they will calm down. Once the tantrum is over, then talk to your child in a calm manner to talk to them about what happened. Acknowledge their feelings, and try to get them to express them through words. Of course, this doesn’t always work at first, but it is a great way to practice those communication skills!

Discipline & positive reinforcement

As much as nobody likes to do it, discipline is essential to show your child right from wrong. If there is hitting, kicking, biting, or attempt to cause harm to someone else in any way, then these things need to be addressed right away so they know it is not acceptable. If you choose something like “time out,” just remember to be consistent. Your child will learn there is a consequence for negative behavior.

On the other hand, positive reinforcement is great too! When your toddler shows kind, thoughtful behaviour, then let them know that it didn’t go unnoticed and that you are proud! Make a big deal about them picking up trash, trying to help with chores, or just going out of their way to be kind.

How to avoid tantrums

Tantrums often happen because the child did not get their way, but sometimes this can be for no logical reason. Perhaps their food is touching on the plate. Maybe you gave them a cup that they didn’t want. It could even be their socks are not the right color! These situations tend to occur more when you child is hungry, tired, overwhelmed, or bored and frustrations occur from not being able to express themselves. You can attempt to avoid some tantrums by avoiding going out to do things like shopping before naptime and have a quiet activity instead, have a regular snack time, and try to let your child know what you’re doing 10-15 minutes before going out or before the next activity. Have a routine in place so your child knows what to expect next. This can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, knowing what is coming up ahead. You should also give your child independence and let them express themselves in healthy ways. Let them run outside, kick/throw a ball, be active in a way that helps them let those frustrations out.

If you suspect a tantrum might occur, then try to prepare your toddler. For example, if your child wanted to go to the park, but you have to run errands, be sure to let them know ahead of time that you can’t make it to the park today, but there’s an alternative activity we can do, like coloring or playing games in the car while running between errands.

It is good to give your child some control over some choices, but avoid open ended questions. Asking a toddler “What do you want to wear today?” can be a disaster. Instead, try “Do you want to wear the shirt with the dinosaur or the one with the truck?”, or “Do you want a banana or grapes for snack?”

You’re not alone in this!

Finally, parents, know that you are not alone! We’ve all pretty much been through it. If your child decides to have a tantrum in the middle of the store, don’t worry about what other people think because most of them are parents and have been through the same thing. Remove your child from the situation to a quieter area until they calm down. Do not give into demands. If your toddler is having a fit because they didn’t get that candy bar they wanted and you give in, they expect the behavior to continue.

Remember, parents: Your child is just learning how to deal with their emotions while sometimes testing limits. Stay consistent, and this too shall pass!

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