This is what I’m going through right now, except I would call it the Terrible 1, 2, & 3s. The terrible twos usually start around age two but can start earlier and last up to age 4. Each child is different and some children don’t even grow through this stage. My mom claims that she never had to deal with the Terrible Twos, as do other mothers from previous generations, but a lot of the mothers from my generation know exactly what I’m talking about.
The terrible twos is characterized by defiant behaviour such as saying “no”, having frequent mood changes, and throwing temper tantrums. Any parent that has dealt with the terrible twos at one point or another, has questioned their parenting skills, as did I. The truth, as I later learned, is that the terrible twos is a normal part of a child’s development. This sort of behaviour occurs as a young child starts to express his or her independence. Since children that age cannot speak or cannot communicate their needs well, they get frustrated easily and as a result throw a tantrum. By learning more about the terrible twos, you can avoid unnecessary tantrums and therefore keep your sanity and your hair from turning grey too soon.
Examples (personal experience) that show that your child may be going through the terrible twos:
– Your one year old child screams and resists while you try to strap her into her car seat, continues screaming after you’ve managed to strap her in, and doesn’t stop screaming until you’ve reached your destination. Consoling makes it worse, and a snack or toy that you try to distract your child with, gets thrown back at you.
– You give your two year old child’s spoon to his sister by mistake and taking it from his sister could result in a tantrum so you pray that your son doesn’t notice and give your son another spoon which is also his. The spoon gets thrown onto the floor and his food gets dumped onto the floor in the midst of a high pitched scream.
– It’s almost bedtime and your two year old child asks if she can go play at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and as you try to calmly say “we will go tomorrow because Grandpa and Grandma are sleeping”, your child begins crying and screaming that she wants to go “right now!”.
– You are getting dressed to go out and your two year old child has found one of his old sweaters and wants to wear this sweater on one of the hottest days of summer. When you quickly offer him his favourite t-shirt in fear of him suffering a heat-stroke and another parent calling Child Protective Services on you, he clings to the sweater and screams long enough for you to cancel the outing.
– Your child is doing a puzzle and is getting frustrated because she cannot seem to get a piece to fit. You offer to help her and she refuses and hastily removes all the pieces away from your reach and then proceeds to rip apart whatever she has already put together and then screams long enough for you to wonder why you even buy your child puzzles in the first place.
Tips To Get Through the Terrible Twos:
1. Have a daily routine.
Meal-time, snack-time, nap-time, bath-time, and bed-time should occur nearly around the same time every day. In young children being hungry, tired, overstimulated, or not being stimulated enough can result in tantrum. Changes in the day can throw off their mood which may also result in temper tantrums. For most toddlers having a routine decrease the chances of having a tantrum.
2. Offer limited choices.
I made a huge mistake of asking my daughter what she wanted for lunch and dinner. Often she would pick something and after I had prepared it, she would change her mind and throw a tantrum. Another thing she would do is choose something unacceptable like yogurt and cookies. As soon as I would begin to tell her why she couldn’t eat yogurt and cookies for lunch, she would throw a tantrum. By offering your child two alternatives (Do you want pasta or rice?) you will avoid answers such as yogurt and cookies as well as a potential tantrum while making your child feel like he or she has the power to make decisions.
3. Don’t give into tantrums
This one is hard. Your first instinct when your child has a tantrum is to do anything to stop him or her from crying and screaming, but this is the worst thing that you can do. If you give in once your child will remember the next time he wants something that he or she can scream and you will give in eventually. The best way to deal with a 1 or 2 year old going through this is by distracting them with something else. Distractions don’t work very well with 3 year olds. The best way to deal with your 3 year old having a tantrum is by ignoring it. It might be hard to ignore your screaming child and you might even feel like ripping your hair out, but if you don’t give a tantrum any attention your child will calm down faster than if you had tried to console him or her. Eventually your child will stop throwing tantrums when he or she realizes that you won’t give in. The key is to be consistent in your parenting and never give in.
4. Set reasonable limits.
Set limits as to what your child can do and shouldn’t do. Expect your child to try to test their limits. Children will do something you tell them not to do because they want to see what they can get away with. When you notice your child doing this, show and tell them that you disapprove and try distracting him or her with something else. You can also provide your child with a child-proofed environment so that he or she doesn’t come in contact with something he or she shouldn’t touch or play with.
5. Don’t try consoling your child or lose your cool.
Raising your voice and yelling at your child will not make your child stop, it will only make the tantrums become louder and last longer. Consoling your child will also result in the same. I’ve tried both and I can personally guarantee that they don’t have any positive effect on the duration of the tantrum. The best thing to do, if your child cannot be distracted, is to let your child carry on until he or she decides to stop on his or her own, provided that your child isn’t doing anything to hurt themselves or another.
6. Take Away Privileges
Disciplinary action is necessary when your child consistently misbehaves the same way. When your child has a tantrum for a puzzle piece not fitting correctly and throws the pieces around everywhere, calmly take the puzzle away and don’t give it back for a reasonable period of time. If your child has a tantrum and rips the pages of his or her colouring book and throws them all over the floor, take away the colouring book and crayons for a period of time. By giving your child a fitting punishment, he or she will soon learn that poor behaviour has consequences.
Time-outs are wonderful if your child is cooperative. It gives them a chance to cool down and regain control over themselves after misbehaving. If your child has wild tantrums, which includes but is not limited to kicking, screaming, and trashing, I would suggest taking away a privilege instead. Before enforcing a time-out pick an appropriate spot (one that is in your view but away from distractions such as toys and other objects). Set a length of time and stick to it. Don’t try to reason with your child in time-out. Once the time-out is over, explain to your child why he or she was sent there. Time-outs are a great way for your child to quickly learn what is tolerable and was is not.
If you are going through this I truly empathize, but also don’t worry it will pass. After starting school my daughter barely has any tantrums. And because his sister doesn’t have tantrums, my son’s tantrums have also decreased significantly. In the meanwhile try to enjoy the terrific parts of your child being two such as their undeniable cuteness and curiosity.
Reenergizing after a tantrum