3 Tips On Dealing With The Terrible Twos
If you are a parent of a toddler, you have probably heard about the ‘terrible twos’ by now. Though it is a normal developmental phase that many young children go through, it can still be frustrating to be on the receiving end of these seemingly endless meltdowns.
Not all two-year olds will go through this troublesome stage, and terrible twos can start even after the age of two. However, with the first three years of childhood being the most critical, knowing what the terrible twos is all about and learning how to deal with them can make a lasting impact on your child’s development and wellbeing.
Why Do The Terrible Twos Happen?
By the age of two, your child would have mastered quite a lot of gross and fine motor skills – such as climbing, jumping, colouring and stacking of blocks. However, speech usually develops a little later. As a result, many toddlers have trouble articulating their needs and wants. This lack of emotional vocabulary often leads to the temper tantrums and frustration which characterises the terrible twos.
While each child may deal with it differently, there are behavioural patterns which hints at your toddler entering the terrible twos phase. These signs include:
Fighting or squabbling more than usual
Kicking or biting when upset
Going from laughing to crying in a short period of time
Non-stop crying or tantrums
Ways to Deal With the Terrible Twos
If you feel like you are constantly in a frustrating Terrible Twos movie plot, there are some things you can do to help your toddler. The goal is to identify common triggers and set in place measures to prevent them.
1. Implement regular schedules
If your child is not getting enough shut-eye or has an irregular sleep schedule, you will probably notice more crankiness or moodiness than usual. While the common-sense approach is to immediately put him to bed, overtired children may have an even more difficult time trying to fall asleep. This applies for eating as well, as some children might not be able to express hunger or wanting to eat.
Avoid temper tantrums or other less desirable behaviours by implementing a regular sleep routine and eating schedule, and try not to leave the house when your child is hungry. It is also a good idea to pack snacks before heading out.
2. Praise positive behaviour
Everyone likes to be praised when they do something good – your toddler included. Therefore, try to work in a compliment or two whenever you spot your child packing his toys or saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. In the same vein, ignore behaviours which you want to discourage.
When praising positive behaviour, it is good to be specific in the praise. Saying “good job” when you observe a positive behaviour is fine. But it would be better to say “you did a good job in keeping your toys”. This would help the child better tie in the compliment and praise to the specific behaviour.
3. Distract or divert attention
As one of the more popular methods of positive parenting, distraction can go a long way in diffusing situations and steering children away from meltdowns. According to research, the more time children spend distracting themselves, the less frequently they display negative emotions.
Grab your toddler’s attention with a pleasant activity, or pretend to marvel at something far away. Doing this helps to build your child’s long-term resilience and encourages self-regulation – key skills to help guide children away from the negative outcomes of the terrible two phase.
When to Seek Help
Tantrums and defiance are part and parcel of the terrible twos, but sometimes such behaviour can point to other issues. Some signs to watch out for in toddlers include not seeking attention from others, not making eye contact, getting aggressive or argumentative or becoming violent. Or perhaps the impact is seen in the parents instead, with the behaviour of the child causing undue stress to his caregivers.
You can seek help from behaviour therapists or enrol your child in early intervention programmes or child psychology services. At MindChamps Allied Care, we provide support for parents or caregivers to equip them with resources to better manage difficult behaviours. Discover how we can help you navigate the challenges of the terrible twos stage by booking an appointment with us today.