This is a normal stage in a toddler’s development. The “ terrible twos ” can be a time when toddlers learn to assert their independence and want to make their own decisions.

The “ terrible twos ” can start from as early as 16 months through to 3 years depending on a child’s personality and development. It will be clear to every parent when your child has reached this developmental stage and evident by increased temper tantrums, adamant refusals, disagreements,

This is a normal stage in a toddler’s development. The “ terrible twos ” can be a time when toddlers learn to assert their independence and want to make their own decisions.

The “ terrible twos ” can start from as early as 16 months through to 2 ½ years depending on a child’s personality and development. It will be clear to every parent when your child has reached this developmental stage and evident by increased temper tantrums, adamant refusals, disagreements, mood changes, the continual use of the word “no” , and doing the exact opposite of what you have asked them to do.

The “ terrible twos ” can be a difficult and stressful time for any parent. At this age child are experiencing development, social and emotional changes. Their speech is still developing and they can become very frustrated because they have limited vocabulary and communication skills to express themselves, particularly in the midst of a challenging moment. Some children can have trouble working something out or completing a specific task.

At other times frustration can be triggered by disappointment, boredom or even jealousy. They also want to be independent and are eager to carry out a task completely on their own and in their own way. Some children become skilled negotiators from a very early age and will try to control and manipulate a situation to make it more beneficial for them.

When a child is in the middle of a tantrum, parents can occasionally lose patience and it becomes difficult to work together as a team and support one another. When the “ terrible twos ” begin, both parents need to communicate together regarding boundaries and discipline. Shouting or raising your voice at your child is not going to resolve the situation. As parents you need to figure out what technique you are going to use and what will work best for your child.  Starting from an early age I would be an advocate for establishing boundaries and explaining in a calm and composed manner to your child, using the words “no”, “don’t touch”, “hot”, “cold”, “dangerous” and/or “stop”.  Always acknowledge good behavior with positive praise, for example “well done”, “thank you for your help”, “great job” etc.  I try to discourage the use of negative words such as “naughty”, “bad” or “bold”. As adults, we do not react well to negative actions or words and children are exactly the same.

As children become older, tantrums can become a “learned behaviour” if parents concede to the outbursts. This can occur if tantrums are rewarded by giving in to what a child wants or what a child wants to do.

The best advice I can offer is to stay calm, confident and positive. Follow through with a technique that works for you and your child and be consistent. Know your limits and the battles that you know you are going to win and lose. For example, if your child is teething on a particular day, you know they may be “out of sorts”. On days like these use distraction or humor and careful planning of activities. Avoid difficult situations such as going to the supermarket if you know your child will be tired and it should be nap time. Parents can reduce the occurrence of tantrums by always thinking ahead, sticking to daily routines as far as is practical and try to turn any potential “tantrum” situation into a more positive experience.

The Terrible Twos & Tantrums

Tips on preventing a tantrum

Be consistent. Establish a thorough day and night time routine so that your child knows what to expect. Children thrive on routine. Having a routine and being consistent with feeding and nap times are all hugely beneficial. I also thoroughly recommend introducing a “wind down” routine before bedtime. This includes turning off the television and all electronic devices, washing teeth, bedtime stories, etc.

Encourage your child to use their own words.  Children understand many more words than parents give them credit for, but are sometimes unable to express their own needs and wants. If your child isn’t yet speaking, baby sign-language classes have many benefits. Through sign-language your child can let you know if they are hungry, thirsty, tired or in pain. This can give your child good communication skills and therefore they may be less likely to get frustrated.

Plan and thinking ahead. If you need to go grocery shopping or on a family outing, make your plans around your child’s routine. Try to arrange events, visits or outings when they can be scheduled to fit in with your child’s meal or nap times. Thinking ahead and having that small toy in your handbag will help with distractions.

Praise positive behaviour. When your child is good and behaves give them extra, positive attention. Children love getting a hug and thrive on being told how proud you are of them, how well behaved they are and also how helpful they can be. The best way to respond to a tantrum is to ignore it, stay calm and in control and don’t give in, as you may unintentionally teach your child that tantrums are the way to, not only get what they want but also when they want it.

All parents recognize that children are not born with a manual. It is our responsibility as parents to become the teachers and guide them through life until they become adults themselves. If your child’s tantrums continue, are getting more frequent and as a parent you feel you have tried everything and are unable to cope, contact and share your concerns with friends, family, childcare specialists or your child’s doctor. Remember there is always help at hand.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.


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