Being Dad Childcare Parenting

Terrible twos: how to prepare and prevent

terrible twos
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Breathe in, breathe out and prepare yourself for the ‘terrible twos’ with our no-nonsense guide.

My daughter recently turned two. On her birthday. many parents warned me about the terrible twos. I refused to believe my daughter, a sweet soul, would overnight change. I knew my story would be different. Nope. It isn’t different. The terrible twos have poked their head into our lives discreetly yet strongly.

Our days are spent dealing with outbursts of “No!” and screaming tantrums. I constantly must remind myself that her episodes are not acts of defiance. It’s an important period in her development. She’s just developing independence and learning how to express frustration. If you remember this, you’re surely able to handle it all with more patience.

Encouraging independence

Child psychologist Penelope Leach, Ph.D., author of Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five, said: “A toddler isn’t a baby anymore, and since he has to grow up whether he likes it or not, treating him like an infant will only make him balk.”

Temper tantrums are often sparked by your child’s frustration at her inability to complete a task she thinks she should be able to do on her own. Give her some control over her life. Ask her opinions. Let her pick out her socks while you help with her sweater. Don’t forget to balance this with discipline. It’s a fine life, and with practice you can ace it.

Damage Control

According to Jeremy Friedman, M.D., professor of paediatrics at the University of Toronto and author of The Toddler Care Book, during a tantrum it’s important to remain calm and avoid inadvertently reinforcing the behaviour. Ignore your child without making eye contact and wait for her to calm down. This will ensure you are not reinforcing bad behaviour. After the tantrum, reassure your toddler that you love her. Then get on with your day.

Preemptive strikes

Tantrums happen for a reason. Reasons like hunger, sleep, boredom or being in a new place with new people. Anticipating these situations requires effort but will make your life simples. Provide a snack, settle her down for a nap, or play a quiet activity before she gets to the stage of potential tantrums.

Try to make this stage in your child’s life as positive as possible. The best way to cope with this stage is to stay strong and don’t get caught up in power struggles. Help your children blossom by giving them freedom and support.