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Tackling the Terrible Twos

Tackling the Terrible Twos

By Dana DeMercurio

For those parents who have yet to experience the terrible twos, here is a quick glance at your (possible) future:  your toddler has reached that delicate stage in life where the only word in their vocabulary seems to be “no,” and the only form of emotional expression involves blood-curdling screams and the ever-frequent temper tantrums that usually get you a few scornful looks in public places.   

But fear not, restless parents! – there is hope for you yet.  In order to conquer the terrible twos – and yes, it’s possible – you have to first understand that the defiance, anger and frustration your toddler is showing is not directed toward you.  Let us explain:

As your child begins to gain independence with walking, they start to take on small tasks that the average adult doesn’t think twice about.  When they are unable to reach that bottle of juice or climb onto the couch themselves, they get frustrated – a normal reaction.  Because their motor and language skills are undeveloped at that age, they have little recourse for emotional expression.  Once motor and language skills develop (around age 3-4), tantrums should decrease. 

In the meantime, however, parents have to keep their cool and remember they are the adult in the situation. 

We understand that temper tantrums are exhausting, and it’s usually only the child who gets the privilege of napping afterward.  Parents should remain calm, cool and collected in the face of tantrums.  Ignoring your child is a common approach, but when in public, this method isn’t the most appropriate. 

Instead, take your child to a quiet area and sit with him until the tantrum subsides, never giving into their demands.  Remain calm and speak gently, because if your temper flares, you can be sure your child’s will as well.  

Preventing tantrums all together is near impossible, but if you can recognize the signs, you may be able to manage them better.  Boredom, hunger and fatigue are the three key culprits, so make sure you have a snack on hand, set aside plenty of time for naps, and have a few games or activities planned through the day to keep potential tantrums at bay.