Right before your eyes, your sweet, adorable, little toddler is turning into the “baby from hell.” Welcome to the “terrible twos.”
The “terrible twos” can begin any time during your baby’s second year, or anytime after your baby’s first birthday. It officially starts as soon your baby learns the word “No.”
Babies in the terrible twos say “No” to everything even when they mean “Yes.” They want control. They want to do it themselves, and they want to do it now.
Suddenly they are mobile creatures .They can walk, talk, and feed themselves. They have the whole world to explore, and you the parent, are always in their way.
Their limited vocabulary begins to grow into complete sentences; but the child still is frustrated, because he can’t express himself as well as he would like to. That’s when words turn into screaming, and then progress to tantrums and loss of control.
This stage is also characterized by repetition….the same story every night, the same path up and down the stairs, the same food, and the same clothes to wear every day.
Some signs that your child is in the “terrible twos” are temper tantrums, crying and screaming for no reason, throwing toys around, banging his head, or just not listening.
During this time the child may also become aggressive…biting and hitting. There seems to be a correlation between language and aggression. Once the child can express his own needs, he will become less aggressive.
This type of negative behavior can become quite unsettling for parents. Parents may not know how to handle this new attitude that their child has developed. Should you put your foot down, or allow the child to act out his frustrations?
There are different ways to handle a toddler going through the “terrible twos.” Sometimes how the parents handle the behavior can determine if it will continue or if it will stop.
Sometimes remaining calm and ignoring the tantrum will work. It doesn’t hurt to try. Some children will stop the tantrum if no one pays attention.
Yelling back at the toddler doesn’t work and usually makes the toddler scream louder. When speaking to a toddler having a temper tantrum, be calm and try to keep your voice at a normal level.
Your first rules should be for his/her safety. Stay one step ahead from unsafe objects and situations. Physically remove your child from any difficult situation…
Try to keep your cool. He/she will lose control even more if you really lose yours. Try to distract him/her.
Don’t use physical punishment. Create consequences instead. Remove the child from the store if he/she misbehaves.
Pick your battles. Set up a safe environment where he can’t get hurt or get into trouble if he/she touches something. Respect his/her needs to be independent and to explore.
Avoid problem causing situations. Keep to routines as much as possible .Don’t give the child too many choices. Don’t make too many rules.
Try the time out chair. When your child is calm, discuss the issue. Validate his feelings while letting him/her know the behavior is unacceptable and that you make the rules and he/she must obey.
Make easy- to- understand rules. Teach your child when he/she speaks nicely, you will listen. When he/she yells or screams, you will not.
Get advice from friends and learned what worked for them. You might get some valuable information. You might not. Sometimes you just have to endure. Children do outgrow the “terrible twos,” sometimes early, and sometimes later. Sometimes this behavior lasts until they go to school.
Most important remember that your toddler is learning everyday, and this behavior is normal for his age. Lastly when the storms pass, give him a hug and tell him that you love him very much.
Your Child…United Way.