This era of development, known as the “terrible twos,” occurs when children are transitioning from a state of complete dependency on adults to a more self-reliant state. Symptoms vary from child to child but can include mood swings and temper outbursts.
The terrible twos are commonly thought to begin around the second birthday of a kid, but in reality, the typical behavior of this era can start as early as 18 months and extend as late as age four.
Reasons for Occurrence
Around the age of two, a child’s development undergoes a significant shift. Jumping and climbing and developing fine motor abilities like doodling with crayons or markers are among the new talents they’re learning. Their verbal ability, on the other hand, may be lacking. Having difficulty expressing their wants and needs can lead to tantrums and other outbursts common in children in their terrible twos.
Without an emotional vocabulary to rely on, a youngster might rapidly grow frustrated and believe they have no means to express their feelings other than rage or hostility.
Although the terrible twos are different for each child, there are a few behavioral characteristics that can suggest that a child is at this hard developmental stage. Some examples are as follows:
- Sibling or playmate arguments are more frequent than usual.
- Fighting with one’s hands, feet, or even one’s teeth.
- The state of one’s emotions might change drastically (such as laughing one moment and sobbing the next)
- shouting or screams
- Throwing a fit
However, not all of a child’s out-of-control conduct can be attributed to the terrible twos. Excessive, frequent, or disruptive temper tantrums may be a sign that it’s time to seek professional help for your child so they can eat, sleep, or attend daycare or preschool. A child’s behavioral troubles may be caused by treatable developmental delays, neurological impairments, or other issues.
Tips for Parents
If your child (or yourself) is going through a typical case of the terrible twos, there are some things you can do to make things a little easier. Preventing frequent triggers like exhaustion, hunger, and frustration should be the first step in dealing with explosive tendencies.
- Maintain a regular sleeping pattern. Parents are aware of the possibility of their children becoming irritable due to being overtired. Keeping nap and bedtimes as predictable as possible will help keep your child’s moods stable, even if you can’t always be home when they are drowsy.
- Keep some munchies on hand. Even when youngsters are hungry or will soon need to eat, it is best to avoid outings at this time. If you must be out and about with your child at a usual meal or snack time, bring food or make arrangements ahead of time to find a location to order food that is close by.
- A kid-proofed environment is essential for the safety of your child. You won’t have to cope with a 2-year-breakdown old’s if you keep a reward or fragile object out of their reach.
- Reduce the quantity of choices available to your kid. Instead of asking what they’d like to eat, offer them the option of an apple or an orange as a snack. With this method, the child is given a sense of control but not overwhelmed by too many options.
- Avoid a breakdown by using calming breathing methods. Sit down and breathe deeply three times with your palm on your tummy while focusing on the rise and fall of your belly when your child is bringing you to the brink of rage.
- Allow yourself some leeway. Focus on how you can better handle a horrible twos moment the next time if you lose your cool. Even for parents, this is a challenging time! It’s a process that takes time and effort, both on your part and your child’s.
You’ll find that toddlers are happier when you keep to your daily routines, such as sleep and mealtimes. Pack healthy food for your child if you know you won’t be home when it’s time for lunch or a snack. Keep kids from getting “hangry” in public with this tasty diversion.
When Your Child Has a Meltdown
The terrible twos are known for their frequent outbursts of rage. Remaining calm is the most crucial initial step if your youngster tosses one. Instead of causing a commotion to seek attention, a 2-year-old only acts in ways they hope to elicit a response. You should never respond to your child’s yelling or striking in the same way, as this reinforces your child’s belief that aggressiveness is an acceptable form of communication.
- Try these methods instead if you’re presented with a temper tantrum.
- Redirect their attention to something else, such a plaything outside the window or a book they’re reading.
- Don’t try to divert their attention if you’re unable to do so. This isn’t a parenting tactic that young children will recognize. Instead, it will convey the message that the way they act will not have the desired effect.
- Rewarding bad behavior with a treat or something else your child wants is a bad idea.
- If you must deal with them in public, wait until they have cooled down before addressing them. A power struggle between you and your child may ensue if you act one way in public and another when you are alone.
- Using time-outs as a form of discipline for toddlers is permissible, but you should never use them as a kind of punishment. Take away privileges or utilize other disciplining methods if the problem persists.
You don’t have to go into great detail about your child’s terrible behavior until they’ve calmed down and their behavior improves. (After all, there are only two of them.) Instead, use words and compassion to express your appreciation for the child’s positive behavior.
From the Mouths of the Wise
It’s important to remember that your child isn’t “acting bad” to challenge you. If you’d prefer, you can do it later. Instead, your toddler tries to express independence without fully developed communication skills.
Learning about the terrible twos and how to handle them without becoming angry or aggressive will help you better deal with this developmental phase. You can assist your child get through this often-difficult stage and boost their self-esteem by accepting the changes your child is going through, respecting their needs while also holding fast to your limitations.
Meaningful articles you might like: The Benefits of Raising an Independent Child, How to Teach a Willful Adolescent to Be More Independent, Going Solo Toddlers’ Independent Play