Many parents dread certain parts of their child’s development. Terrible twos behavior is particularly problematic for a number of parents. During this time, young children start to act out at what may seem to be the most inopportune times. It may even seem like they go from being perfectly happy to a total disaster in just a few seconds. There are ways you can cope with and manage this time in your child’s life.
The Cleveland Clinic has some advice for parents whose children are going through this rough period. The first thing to remember is this is not going to be a permanent fixture in your lives. At some point, which may not be when they turn three years old, the terrible twos behavior will come to and end and your life will get back to normal.
The first thing to do is get to understand what is happening during this stage of your child’s development. Not every child will exhibit or experience terrible twos behavior. Some will bypass this all together while for some children the phase will last for at least a few years. It has been estimated that the period of time when toddler screaming tantrums are at their worst can begin at 19 months of age and continue on until they reach the age of four.
It is also important to note that the fastest rate of brain development that is experienced by a person occurs between birth and the age of three. The brain in a newborn will triple in size during their first 12 months of life. More than 1,000 trillion neural connections are formed by the time a child reaches the age of three. Research has shown that toddlers who are three have brains that are twice as active as the average adult brain. There is a lot going on at this stage of life.
Pediatrician Mary Wong, says, “The toddler years are a time of rapid growth andmdash; physically, mentally and socially. When a toddlerandrsquo;s desire to do something doesnandrsquo;t align with her ability, frustration is often the result. To further compound things, toddlers typically donandrsquo;t have the language skills to ask for help if things donandrsquo;t go smoothly.”
When toddlers want to do something but are unable to, they become frustrated. It is this frustration that is at the heart of the terrible twos behavior and the terrible twos tantrums.
Here are some ways you can better manage the terrible twos behavior your child may be experiencing:
- Make sure your child gets enough rest. No one is at their best when they are tired and toddlers are no different. It is important to schedule any errands or outings accordingly. These should never be done at the time you normally give them a nap. When your child is rested, they will be less irritable.
- Make a meal schedule. You can reduce your child’s irritability by making sure you do not take them out when they are hungry. Bring snacks with you if you will be away from the home for an extended period.
- Talk to your child before you set out. You should try to work through any triggers before you head out the door.
- Do not give in to their demands. If your child gets what they want due to a tantrum, this reinforces the idea that terrible twos behavior will be rewarded.
- Keep them occupied. Boredom leads to frustration. Frustration leads to terrible twos behavior. Keeping them occupied can help prevent tantrums.
- Stay calm. You need to treat terrible twos behavior the same when you are at home and in public. It is easier to let them go through a tantrum at home but if you are out and about, you may just have to remove both of you from the area.
- Distract them. If something is upsetting your child, try to distract them. If they cannot play with something, try to bring their focus to something else. They may forget about what they were so upset about.
Dr. Wong says, “Your child won?t still be going through this phase when they go off to college.”
You are not the first parent to have to deal with terrible twos behavior and you are not the last. The good news is that it will not last forever.