How to cope with the Terrible Twos

Every parent will remember the day their adorable, beautiful toddler suddenly became the ‘kid from hell.’ The days when you could placate your little one with a bottle of milk, a cuddle with their comforter or even coaxing them to take a nap have suddenly ended, and a whole new ball game has begun.

Throughout your pregnancy and in the early days with your newborn, you will no doubt have consulted every guide, experienced mom network and reference book on the shelf, which you thought had prepared you for every eventuality. So far it has mainly gone by the book, but when your toddler suddenly (and sometimes literally) throws their toys out of the pram, you may feel that nothing has prepared you for this.

Don’t panic

Any experienced parent will well recognize ‘The Terrible Two’s’ syndrome, and it has even been studied at length by the experts. Nine times out of ten, a child will respond to a situation with a tantrum through frustration, from not being able to understand a situation or cope with demand. As soon as a toddler stands and walks, they encounter so many experiences daily that mean new and daunting challenges for them, both from a physical and mental perspective.

Understanding

This is a time for taking a deep breath and exhibiting love and patience. You may be frustrated and cross that your child will not obey a command or carry out an action that you have asked, especially if what they are doing puts them at risk. Remember though, that they will be equally frustrated as they try to understand what you are asking them to do (or not to do) and why. So, try to look at things from their perspective and work through the difficult times with them.

Tactics

Whatever the situation, whether you are trying to stop them persistently clambering onto a low stool that they could easily fall from that they only want to explore, or teaching them to use a spoon for their stickiest puddings instead of their fingers, take your time and try to remain calm. Don’t be tempted to raise your voice or show them that you are getting exasperated. Simply use a quiet and controlled tone, repeat the warning or request, using the child’s name and, if necessary, physically remove them or use ‘distraction’ techniques and quietly take them away from the area of conflict and start a different activity with them. Distraction techniques could be reading a storybook together or taking time to learn a new skill together, such as visiting origamiway.com and learning how to defuse a situation by creating paper models.

Look for the signs

You will very quickly come to realize the activities and situations that can cause these horrendous tantrums, and where they are likely to happen. The key to dealing with them will then lie in preparing your toddler and yourself and ‘getting in the right place’ before things get out of hand. Some parents will even try relaxation techniques with their little ones to get them in a calmer frame of mind before, for example, before placing them in their high chair ready for a meal.

It will end

Any experienced mom will tell you that it is horrible when it starts and that it never actually finishes (what about the teenage years!), but between you and your toddler, as they grow and learn the tantrums will fade, and peace will return!

Martel Sharpe

Martel is a writer in Atlanta, who's cooler than a polar bear's toenail. He loves reading, writing, and brunch. Reach out to Martel through email, martel.kontrolhomme@gmail.com or follow him on Instagram and Twitter @markopolowe.