When you hear that someone has a 2 year old, your first feeling is typically pity.
“Oh man, that must be tough! The terrible twos are so hard!”
But are the “terrible” twos really terrible?
It often feels that way since that is when the difficult tantrums begin and even some aggression. But have you stepped back to think about what is happening in that little body?
There are SO many changes taking place, and your once sweet little toddler just doesn’t know what is going on!
Here are just a few of the many changes taking place:
- They are fully mobile
- They have greater language emerging
- Toddlers can understand most everything you ask at this age
- They can now form individual thoughts, however primitive they may seem
So in a toddler’s mind, they just got these huge amounts of skills to help them be independent!
But then we don’t let them experience that independence.
“No, you can’t climb on the table.”
“No, you can’t draw on walls.”
“I know you want to go to the park, but it’s time for a nap.”
“I said no candy!”
No no no no no no.
At least that’s what your toddler often hears. Imagine if every single time you had a new and fun idea, someone said no and then physically removed you from that activity.
I don’t know about you, but I would TOTALLY have a hissy fit.
Same with your toddler!
My son is 3 and a little past the toddler stage, but he was so proud when he pushed a barstool to the fridge and climbed up to get the brownies I had hidden up there. (Nothing is safe in my house). But just before he got to them, I saw him, said no, and took him off the stool.
You can only imagine the screaming that then took place.
So how do you help your “terrible” two year old?
Because, let’s be real, just because toddlers can formulate their own ideas, doesn’t mean that they should be implementing every one. They are 1, 2, and 3 years old for goodness sake!
But they do need some semblance of independence.
Not only to make them happy at this age, but to make you happy years down the road.
You WANT a child to grow up and be independent, so you need to be careful how you handle your child at these tender ages.
Most parents already know this trick. It is one of the best! But remember, you can’t give open ended choices.
“What would you like to eat for breakfast?”
Yeah. That has happened to me before.
Instead, give two options that they like.
“Would you like yogurt or eggs for breakfast?”
I have to say, this strategy works about 85% of the time. The other 15% is when my kids are either too tired or too hungry to be rational. And that just takes planning ahead to fix.
Give boundaries and then stick to them
If they aren’t allowed to jump on the couch, then never let them jump on couch.
The toddler ages are all about experimentation and testing boundaries. All kids go through 2 adolescent stages. The first one is between the ages of 1-4. The second is the typical “teenage phase” that we think of.
So that is why toddlers test your boundaries!
And it is said that how a child acts in the first adolescent stage is indicative to how they will act in the second. So set limits and be consistent NOW.
Your child WILL push the boundaries. That is the AGE. But it is up to you as to whether or not it will be just a phase that you help them out of, or if these challenges become more permanent.
Speak to them like an adult, but don’t have adult expectations
My sister commented to me a few months ago about how she had never heard someone speak to a child the way that I do.
I do my best not to baby talk, and because of that, my children have pretty great understanding and vocabulary. Does that work for every child? Nope, but it will help.
My key with this though is not to necessarily use adult vocabulary. Instead, use correct grammar and tones. Kids learn how to speak and act based off of watching and listening to adults. So give them great examples to enable them to learn correctly!
When it comes to tantrums though, you have to use short, simple words and phrases. Remember, your toddler is NOT an adult! So don’t expect them to be! Just love and respect them, and that will come back to you.
Show patience with tantrums
I wrote a whole post on diffusing tantrums, so I would definitely check that out. But oftentimes, tantrums take place because your toddler is overwhelmed by different emotions that they can’t regulate.
Yes, toddler’s can “fake it,” and they do! This is just another way of testing boundaries. But for the real tantrums, you just have to show patience. Help your child recognize the emotions they’re feeling, and then help them work through them.
Trust me, that takes a lot of time, but the rewards are amazing. I promise!
So now you can see that the “terrible twos” really aren’t terrible. In fact, they can be a wonderful opportunity to truly begin parenting and watch your little one grow into a smart and independent child.
But if you need some quick help with meltdowns, check out my FREE printable below!
Stop a Meltdown In Its Tracks with These Tricks!
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