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The anticipation of the time between our sweet little infant angels needing us and our darling three-year-olds articulating their wants and needs is our lovely two-year-olds. This can be a rough age: they’re now mobile, growing quickly—so that means more eating—and still developing that language.
What is Terrible Two’s?
For every child who seems to skip the meltdown stage altogether, there’s another whose Terrible Two phase seems to last for years. While most children fall somewhere between those extremes, it is very common for children to go through a phase of unruly behavior somewhere between the ages of 18 months and 4.
During this time, most toddlers develop their sense of self and start to want to do things for themselves.
This gap between desire and ability can cause frustration, unruly behavior and tantrums.
This is the age of taking risks, exploring, and doing a bit of intentional cause and effect damage in the name of science. Between potty training and teaching autonomy, your hands are pretty full, so here are some tips for preparing for the terrible twos.
Tips for Preparing for The Terrible Twos:
Keep The Naps
As your child has a lot of energy, it’s important to keep the nap routine. You both need a break. Perhaps instead of the two naps they may have taken in infancy, it’s one, but missing naptime may make for an interesting evening in all the wrong ways. The terrible twos are filled with the pushing of boundaries—it’s part of the exploration phase, which may include fighting taking naps. This may end in an avoidable tantrum if not maintained.
Stick To a Schedule
Just like the naps, your established routines need to stay intact. Children need to know what to expect—and as they hit the terrible twos, there are going to be some hard days. Keeping a schedule so your child knows what is going on throughout the day may limit the surprises that turn into upset.
Talk Through Triggers
Understanding the things that trigger your child are vital. This way, if you know there’s going to be something in the day that’ll trigger anger, you can talk about it ahead of time. This ties into the benefits of a schedule because if your child knows something is going to happen ahead of time, the shock of an abnormal event will be minimized. Discussing triggers and how they’ll be dealt with may give you a leg up when the time comes.
Don’t Give In
As mentioned previously, this is the age of pushing the envelope and testing boundaries. Don’t give in or it will become routine. Your child needs to know where the limits are and that they’re unwavering, no matter what. Giving in may be useful today, but tomorrow if you don’t give in, you’ll have a meltdown on your hands. Instead, try redirecting.
Be Consistent and Calm
At home, it’s best to let your child work through his tantrum. In public, remove your child from the situation as quickly as possible. If your child throws a tantrum, take a deep breath, respond calmly, and don’t give in to demands.If needed stand off to the side where everyone is safe and then talk to your child in a calm voice at their level. It works wonders!
Reinforce Your Home
Now that you’ve got a fully mobile child with a fluctuating temperament and a thirst for adventure (and a bit of destruction), be sure to implement common methods of toddler-proofing your home such as cover outlets, reinforcing overhanging countertops, or other places they may climb, and blocking off possible falling areas. Also, lock those chemicals up! Exploration is part of learning and developing problem-solving skills—you just want them to do it safely.
There are many tips for preparing for the terrible twos, but are we ever truly prepared? One child is different from the next, even in the same family. All we can do is let them learn while keeping them safe and attempting to use teachable moments to change the trajectory. At the end of the day, there’s no doubt you’re doing your best—and three will come soonish.