The ‘terrible twos’ are a stage of early childhood development that really isn’t fun for anyone involved.
The phase usually starts at ~18 months and goes to ~30 months of age, although it can carry on well into year three or even four. The period is characterized by the innate contradictions between a developing sense of self and continued reliance on adults.
Understanding that your child is going through a normal stage of psychological development can help make things easier, but there are also some tips and advice that can help keep you sane through the process.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Step number one to dealing with your child during the ‘terrible twos’ is to remember they are a baby. They will have no recollection of this, so there is no need to get worked up about their behavior.
Just keep calm and carry on. All the temper tantrums, screaming, biting, kicking, running away, it will all pass. This is just a phase. It’s important to keep the long-term health of your child in mind. Also, don’t forget to enjoy this time, your kids are only this age for so long, you will miss it when it’s gone—the good, the bad and the ugly.
Manage, Don’t Punish Temper Tantrums
An estimated 75 percent of tantrums in kids 18 to 60 months last five minutes or less. What’s important when it comes to temper tantrums is not rewarding bad behavior with attention.
Instead, praise good behavior and simply ignore bad behavior or remove the child from the room if it’s in a public area. They want attention, don’t reward them.
It’s much better to redirect or distract, especially for the younger ones. And don’t bring up bad behavior after the fact, they probably won’t even remember what they did and surely won’t understand how to implement changes.
Temper tantrums can be truly frustrating, but don’t let the little ones win, manage don’t punish and keep calm and carry on.
Make Sure It’s Not Something More
Every child has temper tantrums, however, it’s important to be able to distinguish when things may be getting more serious.
If your child is withdrawn or not seeking attention from others, is not making eye contact, or is excessively aggressive or violent, then you may want to seek professional help.
These symptoms are commonly associated with Autism and other mental health issues that usually present themselves around this age. That means you need to get a full mental health evaluation from a registered physician, right away. The quicker you act, the better for the long-term health of your child.
Encouraging independence during the terrible twos can help move your child to the next stage of psychological development quicker, saving your sanity. That means making friends, getting out of the house and experiencing new things.
Whether that means taking Mommy and Me style classes with your toddler(think yoga, music, etc.) or just enrolling them in preschool, encouraging independence is a great way to socialize your child faster—which will make things a lot better for you at home.
Time For School
Perhaps the best way to socialize your toddler is through preschool. At preschool kids are forced to interact with each other which: A) tires them out so they bother you less at home B) leads to better social skills as an adult and C) has been proven to improve academic progress in grade school.
Of course, preschool can be expensive, so it pays to shop around to find your best options. Thankfully there are also a number of organizations that can help you secure funding for preschool, like HeadStart. If you can’t afford preschool and are forced to home-school, remember to get your child as much social interaction with kids their age as possible, and don’t forget to buy an Apple iPad case if you plan on teaching lessons using your tech—you will thank me later.
If funding isn’t an issue then you should look into programs specifically designed for two-year-olds at places like Early Adventures In Learning. These programs have teachers who are specially trained to handle these ‘terrible’ two-year-olds.
So, if your child’s behavior is driving you crazy, hopefully, these simple tips will help you get through it. Remember, it’ll be over before you know it, so don’t fret the ‘terrible twos’, instead enjoy it.