What is it they say? Terrible twos? Really? It just ends when they turn three? Or is it tantrum threes? When does it really end? Well experts seem to say it can begin as early as 18 months and last well into the age of 4. So, most definitely prepare for way more than just one year of this challenging developmental milestone for your toddler.
So what constitutes a behaviour of “terrible 2s”?
All of it. All of a sudden, you may see them screaming, kicking, biting, fighting with siblings and peers, total meltdowns (uncalled for) and of course classic temper tantrums. It sounds terrible and for them it is truly. Children are going through huge developmental changes around age 2, and at that, very exciting ones. They are picking up on new gross motor skills like jumping, climbing as well as the fine motor skills like building blocks and using crayons and markers. But all at the same time their verbal skills lag behind and therefore this makes them unable to tell you what they want and need. SO yes, it is quite terrible. They feel helpless and frustrated and they show it to you just the same way. They cry easily, scream, and get angry. They love their independence and ability to do all these things but get super mad when their wishes aren’t easily understood. or example, For example he may ask for water, only to break down in tears because you gave it to him in a red cup instead of a blue one. We have all experienced this one I am sure!!
Believe it or not, you can stop the most common triggers for their tantrums!! These usually stem from being overtired, hungry and entertained. Simply put, always strive to make sure their nap and quiet time is not disturbed as well as their meal time. And at meal time, do not ask what they wish to eat rather than just offer them 2 options. This is much easier for them to understand, choose and be happy with their selection. And then add to all of this a healthy dose of variety of activities.
But if you have done all the things, and your little one still gets frustrated? Let them express themselves, stay calm, approach them by speaking quietly and try to ask them what they are upset about. As much as as you may feel like you are losing your cool, take some deep breaths, look away and then speak to your toddler. They won’t even notice if you ignore their behaviour for a short while and they may just stop on their own after they have “felt” all the feelings. If all else fails, remove them from the space and go into another room or area in the playground, store, etc. Distracting them from what has caused them so much anger might do the trick. Toddlers do forget very quickly and then they move on.
When dealing with a toddler, always try to remember that they are not being “bad” to spite you or upset you. In fact it is their way of expressing their independence yet not being able to verbally express it. This is why this stage is completely phased out by 3.5 to 4 years old when your child can easily tell you what they want, don’t want, or like/dislike and when they understand the consequences.
Honestly only by understanding the terrible twos can you learn to cope with this and make it easier for everyone involved to deal with. Make sure you show respect for their emotions as they are simply their words, well very loud words 🙂