When you become a parent lots of the time you will hear the dreaded phrase “the terrible twos.” And in the back of your mind all you can think is please let that take a long time to get here. The terrible twos to some degree affect every child. Whether you have a darling boy or a little girl in some fashion you will experience the terrible twos. Some people’s terrible twos aren’t quite so terrible while others have it way worse than terrible. The terrible twos don’t just automatically start happening when your child turns two. It all starts from around eighteen months of age and can last sometimes even to the age of four.
There are a few things that contribute to this phase in childhood. Your child doesn’t yet have the best communication, but they are wanting more independence. Also when they are trying to do things on their own and they can’t, frustration happens quickly. Most of the reason we see so many meltdowns when our children are two is because they are frustrated that they can’t communicate, complete an activity, or don’t want to follow one of the rules. Delaying tactics, pickiness, defiance, tantrums, and objecting are all signs that the frustration is too much. Your child is trying to find out what your boundaries are. The way they know how to do that is to push the boundaries.
With the new found independence they are trying out as well they may start objecting to help with putting on their clothes, or not wanting to hold your hand when you cross the street. Patience is a virtue that you have to learn, so your two year old who doesn’t want to wait patiently in line is just trying to master that virtue that a lot of adults haven’t mastered either. It is a good time to remember they are only two. Though they are starting to turn into little people instead of infants, they aren’t ten, they don’t understand everything yet.
Tantrums can feel like the worst thing in the world when they happen. Especially when out in public which seems to be when they always occur. Tantrums can be just the normal screaming and crying. Though in some cases your child may do some hitting, kicking, biting, and throwing as well. These are all normal tantrum signs, so don’t think your child is going to become a violent little kid. This is usually because they have no other way to communicate their frustration and anger. More than 75% of tantrums that happen are less than 5 minutes. Though when you are right in the midst of one, it can feel like an eternity.
Tips & Tricks
There are some tips and tricks though to help us get through this phase in childhood. Remember that it is a phase, this too shall pass.
Try to stick to a schedule. Have outings, or errands to run, but make sure your child eats and naps around the same time every day. This gets them into a routine. A child who is hungry and/or sleepy is just asking for a tantrum.
Communicating and talking to your child constantly can help them know what to expect. This can be telling them we are going to the store, what to expect at the store, what they will see at the store. The more information you tell your child, this will help boost their communication skills. This is also a good time for you to talk about anything that may be off limits. If your child knows they get candy sometimes when they go to a store, you can let them know if this won’t be the case. This sets boundaries ahead of time. Make sure when setting boundaries to use small words your child understands and keep them simple. Gently remind them if needed.
When your child has good behavior, praise them for it. Let them know they did a good job listening by either telling them, giving them a hug, or high five.
Let them be in control of some things. Giving your child two options that you are happy with either of the choices can make them feel like they are independently choosing something, and in the end you are happy with any choice they get to make.
Try to be as consistent as you can with discipline and rules. This consistency should be across all caregivers in your home. Your child will have other rules when they go to other places but making sure at home all rules are the same between everyone can help them not have to keep track of too much. You can also childproof your home. This eliminates the need to police everything your child is doing. If there are already outlet covers on the outlets, you don’t have to tell them no every time they go over to one. You already know they are safe.
Don’t give in. If your child starts throwing a tantrum because you said no candy at the store, stick to your guns. Your child is in a phase of testing boundaries. If they know they can get the candy if they act like a lunatic in the store, buckle up chances are they will act like a lunatic every store you go in just to get that candy.
If your child struggles with transitioning from one thing to the next, or one place to the next. Try having them say bye to each thing. Tell the house bye we will be back soon. Then when leaving the store. Tell the store bye we will be back another day. This may help them move on easier.
The terrible twos are just a phase and they eventually pass. Remember that though tantrums feel like they last an eternity on average they last less than five minutes. All children go through this phase to some extent. You aren’t alone.
More than 75% of tantrums that happen are less than 5 minutes. Though when you are right in the midst of one, it can feel like an eternity.