Ahhh the horrible, life sucking, miserable, terrible twos… They must be pretty bad, because parents everywhere talk about them! But how do you tackle the terrible twos?
I’ve watched mothers with older children warn new mothers about the terrible twos.
I’ve seen parents shake their heads when their child is throwing a temper tantrum, and say, “it’s just those terrible twos.”
But to be able to tackle the terrible twos, you must first know what the terrible twos are and why it happens. So bucket up and get excited, because you are about to learn everything you need to know about the terrible twos.
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What Are The Terrible Twos?
The terrible twos are a time during early development where a young child can be uncooperative and difficult to handle.
So to sum it up, they are just all around a pain in the butt! 😆
When Does It Happen?
Thinking about the words ‘terrible twos,’ you would imagine that your child is just going to wake up on their second birthday being uncontrollable, and it will last until their third birthday, where they will wake up acting like an angel.
Well, sorry, it’s not that simple.
The terrible twos come on at any age (as early as 18 months). How long the terrible twos last, depends on the child. Remember, the terrible twos are a stage of development, so considering that kids develop at different rates, they will hit the terrible twos at different times.
Why It Happens
1. Finding Their Voice
At this age, kids are learning to talk and develop their own opinions. If they want something, they can now ask for it, instead of just sitting around waiting for it.
If their requests are not met on their time, they could have a real meltdown. They still do not understand patience at this age.
Also, kids are developing their own opinions, so if they get told no, they might not fully understand why. All they know is, they want something and they want it now, and nothing else matters to them.
2. Their Voice Isn’t fully Developed
Yes, kids this age are starting to talk, but they might want something that they do not know how to express it.
Imagine if you wanted a glass of water, but couldn’t communicate that with someone, I bet that would be frustrating. This is what toddlers face everyday.
Around two years old, kids want to be able to complete tasks on their own. They want to be independent even with tasks that they cannot do completely by themselves.
They could get frustrated if a parent tries to help them, or if they just can’t do it yet.
Toddlers start to get very curious about things. They want to know how things work, why things are, how things are, etc.
Kids will go explore to find these answers out for themselves. This means they will be getting into everything, and once again if you tell them no, they will frustrated.
5. Testing Boundaries
Let’s face it, in the beginning of a child’s life, all they do is eat, poop, and sleep. Your job is simple; keep them alive.
Now your child is testing you to see what they can and cannot get away with. Your job gets a little more complicated here; teach them to be decent human beings.
How To Deal With It
Get your kids on a schedule, and keep them on this schedule! This means, your kids eat and sleep at the same time everyday.
Imagine if you woke up, and had no idea what to expect with your day. Are you going to eat breakfast, get ready to leave, or take a shower? If you do not know what to expect the next day, when you do find out, it could be overwhelming.
Keeping kids on a schedule eliminates the chaos.
Plus, think about how cranky you get when you are tired or hungry. I’m sure you know what I am going to say next…the same thing happens to toddlers.
Learn how to get kids on the perfect eating and sleeping schedule for a very young age here!
2. Keep Them Busy
If your child has activities and playdates to keep them occupied, there is less available time for them to have meltdowns.
When your child has more time that they need to occupy themselves, they will get bored, and cause havoc.
Let’s face it, they literally have nothing better to do.
3. Set Boundaries
Very early on, you need to let your child know what is expected of them and what is unexceptable.
If your child knows that yesterday they threw themselves on the floor, kicking, and screaming, and got the candy bar they were pouting about, then they will just continue to do this, because they know it works. They will think,”if it ain’t broke, dont fix it.”
Don’t give into the temper tantrums, no matter how embarrassing they are for you. In the long run, you are helping yourself and your child out.
4. Be Consistent
Your child needs to know that they will NEVER get their way when they are acting out. If you give in one time, this will cause confusion for your child, and they will expect to be able to get away with it again.
It does not matter who is watching, if you are running late, or how long the temper tantrum lasts, don’t give into this behavior.
5. Say Yes Before The Meltdown
Your going to need to hear me out on this one. Let me share with you a story from my life.
I was cooking dinner the other day, and my son (who is almost two), opened the fridge and asked for chocolate; he even said please. My immediate thought was, “of course he cannot have chocolate right before dinner, but ugh then I am going to have to deal with a huge meltdown.”
So guess what I said? I said, “sure you can have ONE M&M, what color would you like?” I figured, one M&M is not going to spoil his dinner, and he will be beyond thrilled that he got to eat chocolate, and even pick out the color that he wanted!
Right after that, he sat down, and ate his entire dinner without any complaint.
Sometimes saying yes before the meltdown saves both you and your child a big headache.
Now, if you have already said no once, then you need to stick to your original answer, or you could confuse your child.
6. Say Yes (But Later)
If your child asks for something, the second you say no, they could get frustrated and angry.
If your child asks for something, and it is something within reason, instead of saying “no”, say, “yes we can do that later.”
Back to my previous example, let’s say my son wanted chocolate, but I didn’t want him to have it until after dinner. If i just told him, “no, not right now,” he would probably freak out, but if I said, “yes, you can have chocolate after you eat your dinner,” this would probably go over a lot better.
7. Don’t Give Them The Chance To Say No
No is a two year olds favorite word! If you give them the chance to say no, they probably will.
Don’t say, “are you ready to clean up your toys?” Instead say, “it’s time to clean up your toys.”
If you give them an option, they will always want to get their way.
8. Give Warnings
If something is coming that you know your child does not like, give them a warning of what is going to happen next.
Let’s say your child is playing with their toys and bedtime is just around the corner. Instead of just taking their toys away and immediately putting them to bed, give them a warning that it is almost bedtime.
They will be less shocked when it is bedtime.
Anytime your child does listen, praise them! If they cleaned up their toys when you asked, jump up and down and have a dance party. The excitement that you have will make your child want you to do that again.
Take every opportunity you can to have a proud mom moment!!
If you sense a terrible two meltdown coming your way, distract your child with something else before it escalates.
Let’s say your child wants to finger paint, but you need to fold the laundry. When you see your child start to get frustrated because they cannot finger paint, give them another option of something super fun that they can do at that moment.
Why The Terrible Twos Are Not So Terrible
The terrible twos can be difficult and annoying. You might want to pull your hair out at the end of the day, but here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your spirits high.
1. It’s Just A Phase
This is just a short period of time of unruly behavior, but it will pass just like every other phase does.
Now, I make no promises that the next phase is going to be any better, but the terrible twos will pass.
2. Your Child Is Growing Up
Think about it for a minute…your child is acting out because they are gaining their own voice and becoming independent. They are leaving the baby stage and becoming big kids.
This has to pull on some of your heart strings!
Just keep in mind that it is not their fault, and you are not a bad mom. They are just growing up and developing into what they will be in the years to come.
Yes, today might have been hard, but tomorrow it will get easier. Your child is learning, but so are you.
You guys can learn how to tackle this phase, and get through it together.
4. It’s Humorous
There is just no way around this one. It can be hilarious the reasons why toddlers cry.
My son is just entering his terrible twos, and let me tell you, it can be challenging. This week alone, he has gone scuba diving in the toilet, used the kitchen table as a jungle gym, and has made multiple slip ‘n slides out of water, milk, juice, and pee. Yes, you read that right…pee. Toddler boys are disgusting!!
But this week he has also started going to the bathroom, in the bathroom, by himself. He has been potty trained since about 19 months, but this week he decided he wanted to do everything on his own. This week he has also started drinking out of regular cups instead of sippy cups (by his choice I must add).
As you can see, he is learning and exploring everyday. With every new thing he learns, he also learns how to make it into a mess, but it is all worth it.
My son is very strong-willed, but I see this as a good thing. I want my toddler to grow into a man that is determined to what he wants out of life!
I might have a headache every night after dealing with a toddler in his terrible twos, but I also go to bed with a smile on my face, because he is growing up each and every day.
How did you handle the terrible twos? Please share in the comments.
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