The dreaded term and irritating remark– the “terrible twos.” According to Healthline, this stage of toddlerhood is when your child is learning to walk, talk, have opinions, experience emotions, and begin to understand how to share and take turns. Although trying, this is a normal developmental phase that often results in tantrums and defiant behavior. Surviving the terrible twos may feel like it will never end, but understanding and having ways to mitigate your child’s behavior is crucial.
The “Terrible Twos”
This developmental stage is when your child gains the capacity for new skills and abilities and even begins to gain a sense of self. Emotional outbursts and meltdowns are frequent occurrences while surviving the terrible twos. Here at Wake Forest Pediatrics, we want to equip you with tips and tricks to help guide you through this often turbulent time of toddlerhood.
1. Stick To A Schedule
Whether organizing time for sleeping, eating, playing, or all three, sticking to a schedule is sure to help you in surviving the terrible twos. As creatures of habit, toddlers acknowledge predictability as safe and comfortable. This feeling of consistency often helps to decrease outsized emotions in your toddler. Additionally, sticking to a schedule for eating and snacking will help reduce hunger-related tantrums.
2. Keep Your Cool
We get it, remaining calm is much easier said than done. Try remembering this is a normal part of your child’s growth and development. Research shows tantrums occur in 87% of 18 to 24-month-olds, 91% of 30 to 36-month-olds, and 59% of 42 to 48-month-olds. When your child throws a tantrum, take a deep breath, try to keep your cool, and remember this moment won’t last forever. To help reduce the meltdown, and save your sanity, try redirecting your child to focus on something different.
3. Be Consistent With Discipline
Any child learning about emotions and abilities is sure to test the limits– this is well known for anyone surviving the terrible twos. Let your child know that some actions have consequences, and they will be disciplined for unacceptable behaviors. Some consequences may include time-outs (or time-ins), helping with chores, or early bedtime. And try your hardest not to cave in! Succumbing to the tantrum will only make it more difficult the next time. Staying strong and sticking to your ground will only help you in the long run.
4. Offer Options
Because your child is experiencing the need for control for the first time, giving them options will help them feel less powerless in situations. Telling your child what to do at all hours of the day often leads them to feel no sense of control and can lead to tantrums. Throughout the day, try offering options that they can choose from. For example, “do you want pasta or a sandwich for lunch?”, or “do you want to play outside or inside?”. Be careful not to give them options that cross boundaries, like asking them if they want to nap or play. Napping and playing should remain consistent and not up to the toddler’s discretion.
5. Value Nap Time
Last but certainly not least, value, cherish, and respect the nap. Not only is sleeping essential for your child’s development, but it is also an excellent time for you to destress and take a few minutes for yourself. Try planning outings around your child’s scheduled nap time to eliminate irritability and exhaustion-related tantrums.
Having a toddler brings immense joy and pride; however, the terrible twos can often leave you feeling depleted and frustrated. These tips are intended to give you more knowledge on getting through this stage of toddlerhood with as few bumps in the road as possible. Do you have more questions about surviving the terrible twos? To talk to our team about a care plan for your child, call our Wake Forest office at 919-556-4779 or our Knightdale office at 919-266-5059 or make an appointment.