The term “Terrible Twos” has been around for some time now, and for good reason. Turning two takes places during a major transition in a child’s physical and cognitive development. In fact, the fastest rate of brain development of a human’s life occurs between birth and the age of three. By the age of three the average child’s brain has more than 1,000 trillion neural connections. So this transitional period between a child’s birth and this major brain development is bound to be turbulent. No one can go through such a rapid cognitive change without there being some consequences.
While it might be difficult, dealing with terrible twos is only a temporary challenge, and it’s one that can be managed just fine if handled the right way. Every child is different, of course, but there are many similarities across the board for the behavior of two-year-olds, so these tips might come in handy for dealing with terrible twos.
Taming Toddlers and Tantrums
The main reason dealing with terrible twos is so difficult is because around the age of two the average child’s brain is functioning much quicker than the child can process. The result of this dissonance between brain activity and understanding often comes out in the form of tantrums. Tantrums are fits of anger, yelling, crying, and sometimes physical thrashing. While temper tantrums are common for two and three-year-olds, they aren’t fun to deal with. So how does one do it?
The best way to handle a toddler’s tantrum is to refrain from allowing your own anger and frustration to show through. If you’re throwing a tantrum yourself, you’ll only reinforce the behavior of your child, leading to more tantrums in the future. So it’s best to try and remain calm during your kid’s fit. While it’s never easy to do so, try and remove your own emotions entirely, and let your child go through the tantrum until their energy is expended. Once the child has inevitably calmed down, be sure to calmly and politely ask them what caused the tantrum and give them better ways to handle their emotions in the future. Even if what you say isn’t yet fully understood, repeating this type of caring deescalation will instill better habits in your child and reduce future fits.
How to Stop Toddler Tantrums Before they Start
Once you’ve properly dealt with a child’s tantrums enough times you’ll probably start to pick up on the things that trigger them in first place. For instance, many children act out when they’re tired, hungry, and/or stressed. Making sure your child is sleeping well at night is a great way to prevent outbursts during the day. This can be as simple as checking in on your child during the night. Many children also require naps during the day, especially during this time of extreme cognitive development. Ensuring your child is eating healthy and eating enough is just as important, since poor eating habits can negatively affect sleep as well. Make sure your child is getting proper nutrition and not eating too much sugar or foods high in sodium or fat. A good diet will also help ensure proper brain development.
Shifting Focus to Independence
While two and three-year-olds are certainly still dependent on you and will be for some time to come, their level of dependence begins to shift and dwindle as they learn to think more critically and independently. The more a child’s independence is stifled, the more likely it is they will burst into a tantrum. The best thing to do during this time in your child’s development is to begin noting what they want to do and how they want to do it. Rather than interfere and tell them what they like or don’t like, encourage their independence and try to cultivate an atmosphere that is beneficial to their independent discovery. Remember that your child is their own person, and that it’s important to respect their individuality even at this young age.
The terrible twos can certainly be terrible at times, but dealing with terrible twos doesn’t have to be. Learning how to control your own emotions can help teach your kid how to control theirs. Taking steps to prevent outbursts is also key, along with allowing your children to express themselves freely without judgement.