30 Aug The Terrible Twos: Surviving the storm
The terrible two’s. We’ve all heard about this challenging phase. We attempt to prepare ourselves by reading parenting books that highlight the “effective” or “right” ways to intervene with our kids. But until your toddler is sprawled out on the floor, crying hysterically and screaming bloody murder as onlookers size you up with a judgmental glare, you have no idea how intense, frustrating, confusing and embarrassing this behavior can be.
I recall my son’s first official public outburst vividly…. My almost-two-year old was obsessed with books, so I figured a trip to the brand new public library in our neighborhood would be a real treat!!! I was semi-mistaken.
At first, I found myself basking in the glory of my son’s wide eyes as he stared in awe at the plethora of books available to him. For a brief moment, I thought to myself, “good job Steph, you are a wonderful and conscientious mother who has chosen to expose her son to the wonderful, imaginative world of books”.
This fuzzy, warm feeling of accomplishment quickly turned to dread as I realized that I had left my wallet in the car and would not be able to get a library membership, which meant that my son would have to part with his new found treasure. As I watched my son clutch the choo-choo book in his hands I wondered:
How are we going to get out of this library in a calm, drama-free manner?
After trying to reason with my son (as if reasoning with a two-year old has ever worked in the history of the world!), I was met with a firm, pouty, “No Mama, MINE!!” . I braced myself for the storm…..
His shrieking cries echoed in the halls of the library like nails on a chalkboard. I scooped up my son who felt like a 30 pound dead weight and fled the scene like a bolt of lightning. The tantrum lasted about 10 minutes, which felt like an eternity, and after some ignoring coupled with some verbal reassurance and redirection, the storm abruptly ceased and my little boy was back. I survived the storm!
After some discussion with my husband and a nice big glass of wine, I realized that my son’s outburst was his only way of exerting his independence, of expressing his frustration and communicating his needs.
As embarrassing and frustrating as our toddlers behavior can be, it’s imperative for us to realize that this is a completely normal stage in a child’s development. And although we have no control over when these tantrums are going to happen, we do have control over how we react to our kids’ outbursts.
Here are some helpful tips that will help you navigate through the storm of the terrible two’s:
- Plan ahead. Some simple planning and thinking ahead could prevent a tantrum.
- Remind yourself that for the most part, tantrums are a normal part of development and usually pass by the age of 3, once children develop a more communicative vocabulary.
- Although it may be difficult to escape the judgemental stares of others, try not to care too much about what others may think of your parenting skills. If the tantrum takes place in a public place try your best to get your child into a safe space to ride out the tantrum.
- Use redirection or distractions when you see your child’s frustration start to rise. This may allow you to nip the tantrum in the bud.
- Allow and encourage your child to make simple choices whenever possible. This will give them a sense of control and empowerment.
- Praise your child for good behavior. Children benefit significantly from positive reinforcement and it contributes to the development of a positive sense of self.