Coping With the Terrible Twos
Parents of toddlers may dread the phrase “the terrible twos” but it is usually a necessary challenge that needs to be overcome. It’s an important developmental stage and with patience, empathy, and understanding, coping with the terrible twos can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Children between the ages of 18 months and 3 years are likely to experience the “terrible twos”. During this stage, which is sometimes referred to as the “witching hour”, toddlers are unpredictable and difficult to control. They may become increasingly defiant, argumentative and emotional. They often demonstrate their frustration by acting out or through stubbornness or tantrums.
Understand What’s Happening
The first and most important thing for parents to understand is that the terrible twos aren’t a sign of bad parenting or intentional misbehavior. It is a normal developmental stage and the “terrible twos” behavior is largely driven by the child’s inability to understand and process their emotions. At this stage, many toddlers are learning to express themselves but their vocabulary is limited so they often use behaviors to express their frustration.
Set Boundaries & Provide Structure
Provide structure and consistency for your child. This can help your child gain a sense of security and reduce anxiety which can play a part in the “terrible twos” behavior. Establish routines and make sure you enforce them on a consistent basis. Try to anticipate your child’s needs and be clear about what behaviors are expected.
Setting limits and boundaries is also important. Make sure your toddler knows what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Be firm and consistent when disciplining and always use positive reinforcement. Make sure your toddler knows you’re available to listen and talk when they are feeling frustrated and need help to process their emotions.
Allow Them to Explore
The great thing about toddlers is that they are still discovering and exploring the world. It’s essential that parents allow their child to do this in a safe and regulated way. Providing your toddler with plenty of toys, books, and other stimulating materials can help them engage in activities that stimulate their creative side.
But it is important that parents remain vigilant. Make sure toys are age appropriate and that they are safety checked. It’s also important to be mindful of the environments and people your child is exposed to and avoid situations that can be unsafe.
Stay Calm & Ignite Curiosity
Children respond to the emotions of their parents and will often take cues from them. Learning to stay calm during challenging times is an important skill for parents. Taking deep breaths and counting to 10 can help to manage the situation.
Ideally, toddlers should be given enough room to explore and make mistakes without the fear of being criticized or reprimanded. It’s important to recognize your child’s curiosity, even in challenging situations. Ignite their curiosity by asking open-ended questions and provide answers to their questions without scolding them.
Validate Their Feelings
Validation is an important part of coping with the terrible twos. Rather than trying to make the child understand why they can’t do something, it’s important to just validate their feelings and emotions. By showing empathy and understanding to their feelings, it helps to create a safe space for them to explore their emotions and gain a better understanding of themselves.
Give Time Out & Stick to Consequences
Sticking to consequences is an important part of parenting a toddler. When they are misbehaving or challenging your authority, it’s important to make sure you let them know what the consequences are for their behavior and then make sure you follow through. This could involve taking away privileges or giving “time out” periods for them to reflect on their behavior.
Incorporating Positive Parenting
Positive parenting is an important part of managing the terrible twos behavior. This involves offering more rewards than punishments and focusing on catching your child in the act of being good. Spend times with your child and look for positive things they’re doing so that you can praise and reward them.
It’s also helpful to explain why certain behaviors are not acceptable. This can involve role-playing to help them understand the source of their emotions and how to express them appropriately. For example, you could act out a situation where they begin to throw a tantrum in a store and then talk to them about how it’s better to express themselves with words.
Seek Help When Needed
If you’re having difficulty managing the “terrible twos” behavior, don’t hesitate to seek help. There are many resources available including parenting classes, books, and online resources. Talking to your doctor, therapist or other childcare professionals can also provide important information and advice on how to cope with your child’s behavior.
In conclusion, coping with the terrible twos can be both challenging and rewarding for parents. By understanding the developmental stage of your child and incorporating positive parenting, you can help your child to develop and grow in a safe and supportive environment.