Babies are adorable. So well behaved. They cry when they want something and then go back to their calm state after their needs are met. UNTIL THEY TURN TWO. If your child is coming up for their second birthday, then hold on to your sanity, because the Terrible Twos are fast approaching, and it’s not going to be pleasant. In this post, I’m going to be explaining exactly what the Terrible Twos involves, and how you are going to survive it.
What are the Terrible Twos?
The Terrible Twos is a normal stage of development that usually starts at the age of two. It can last for over a year unfortunately. It’s important to remember that the change of behaviour is not always directed at you as the parent. It can stem from the changes that they are experiencing. It’s a lot for children to deal with, especially at such a young age. So what delightful characteristics can you expect to see from your child?
- Temper Tantrums – We all love a good temper tantrum. Expect your child to throw the biggest tantrum ever over the smallest little things. The best ones are when you are out in public. Maybe in the middle of a busy supermarket. When you want the floor to swallow you whole.
- Moodiness – It can sometimes feel like you are living with a small teenager. At this stage children will become moody and the ‘frowning face’ comes into play. If you think about it though, the changes they are experiencing often resemble puberty. Their bodies are growing. They are learning new things that scare them. Life can be overbearing. It’s a lot to take in.
- Defiance – Get ready to hear the word ‘NO’ over and over again. It’s a two year old child’s favourite word. Every answer will be ‘NO’, even when they mean yes. They don’t want whatever it is you are giving them, but you can guarantee they will want it five minutes later.
- Independence – Children at this age will not want any help doing anything. Even if they are clearly struggling. I’ve found that Austin has already hit this point. He won’t let you feed him anymore, even when he is having difficulty picking food up with his fork. He wants to do everything by himself.
- Frustration – Frustration at everything. When they can’t do something. When you try to help them. Every little obstacle in their way will frustrate the hell out of them. What makes it worse, is that they still do not have the capability of expressing their feelings through speech. I think anyone would find this frustrating.
How To Help Your Child Through The Terrible Twos Stage
So now that we know what we are up against, how do you deal with such challenging behaviour? I’m going to be walking you through some of the tips I have to deal with the Terrible Twos. However, that doesn’t mean that any of these tips are guaranteed to work. Every child is different and what works for one child, may not work for another.
- Give consequences – Even children as young as two understand some aspect of right and wrong. Put boundaries in place and start to introduce consequences for bad behaviour. You don’t need to go overboard with the punishment. Just a simple ‘NO’ when they do something that they shouldn’t will suffice. Teach them from an early age that their actions cause reactions.
- Give children options – Children can become frustrated when they feel that they only have one option. If it’s something that they don’t want to do, you are going to have a problem. Offer them alternatives so that they can choose what they want. There is less chance that they will misbehave if they are doing something that they have chosen and that they enjoy.
- Regular naps – Don’t ever neglect your child’s naptimes. A tired child is a grumpy child. A grumpy child will make your life a lot harder. Make sure your child is going down for a regular nap if they need it.
- Stay patient – It’s so easy to become frustrated and angry at your child for displaying challenging behaviour. Just remember that they may be acting this way out of fear or confusion. Be patient with them and offer them a different way of looking at a problem. Sometimes children just need a little encouragement and reassurance. It’s also important to pick your battles. You don’t need to be stopping your child for everything bad that they are doing. Sometimes they need to make mistakes to learn from them. Also, if you choose to tackle everything, you will end up going insane.
- Positive Reinforcement – Similarly to my point before about giving consequences for negative behaviour. Make sure you reward positive behaviour. When they have done something good, go over the top with praise and even reward them with a treat. They will be more likely to act out that positive behaviour again.
- Give children responsibility – Children love to be given jobs to do. It makes them feel involved and useful. If you are trying to clean up, get your child to help you. If you are out shopping, give them their own shopping list and make them feel involved in what is going on.
- Distraction – If you feel like there is a behavioural storm brewing, then re-direct your child onto something else. Distracting them away from the cause of their frustration might just avoid a meltdown. As a parent, you will learn to identify the triggers that set your child off. Try to spot them before the screaming starts.
- Don’t give in – It’s important to be strong when dealing with a terror-some two year old. It’s too easy to just give in to them when they become hard work. Especially when you are out in public. Stay strong! Be consistence and make sure your child knows what their boundaries are. When you start to give in to them, they will assume that you will the next time. This will make your life very difficult as they get older. You are the parent. You are in charge of each situation.
- Give children notice – This is something that is usually suggested for children with autism who live around strict routines. It can be useful for all children though. If a child is engrossed into a game or TV programme, then let them know that they have 10 minutes left and then it will be time to do something else. This allows them time to process what is about to happen, rather than it being sprung on them at the last minute.
- Talk to other parents – One of the most important pieces of advice I can give. If you feel like you are struggling to cope with the terrible twos, then go and talk to other parents with similar aged children. You will soon realise that you aren’t going through the process alone. Every other parent is experiencing the same struggles as you. Share tips with each other like I’m doing with you right now.
So what are the parents of Twitter saying about the Terrible Twos?
#terribletwos your child will either moan at you because you won’t help them or moan at you because you try and help them. The most important 3 words with a two year old… Pick. Your. Battles.
It’s like a magic portal he went through when he turned 2 that transformed him. This wkend he took the broom & hit the picture frame, shattering the glass. On Sun he climbed out of his crib for the first time & then climbed up his brother’s bunk bed ladder into his bed.
Katrina Cunnington @katrinamarie_90:
Sharing!! Its a huge deal when they’re 2 because they become so possessive over everything and everyone! My little lady had an accident at nursery today because she refused to let go of a dolls pram she had been playing with to go toilet!
Hopefully some of these tips will help you to survive the Terrible Twos stage. It won’t be easy but it will pass. Then the threenager stage can begin! Good luck to all the parents that are struggling with this, and anything I’ve missed or if anyone has any more questions feel free to get in touch!