We’ve all heard of the Terrible Twos. Even childless adults seem to be familiar with the Terrible Two rite of passage. Although I lack the foresight to say this too really does pass, I have heard many parents chuckle when I express frustration of the Twos phenomenon. My sweet, precious two-year-old is right in the middle of this.
I can’t speak from memory (it was a while ago), but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be two years old. My son, Leo, turned two in September, and seems to be growing more mature by the week. Leo has just learned to create two- and three-word sentences. “No I not” is on the top of the list of his favourites. Knowing that he now has a choice in doing activities, though, makes it very tough for mum. Bath time? “No, I not.” Time to interrupt trains and go to the doctor? “No, I not.” Bed time?…..You guessed it!
The most important thing is to remember that your once-helpless infant is now becoming an independent individual. Instead of insisting he participate in activities, try to imagine where your toddler is coming from. Why is he frustrated? For example, if he doesn’t want to put on his shoes, stop forcing them on his feet. Maybe he wanted to wear his camouflage boots instead. Is it really worth the fight?
To avoid those Terrible Two tantrums, try to keep a predictable routine for your child. Get up and get ready at the same time, with the same routine, every morning. As you’re getting ready for the day, talk through the rest of the day’s schedule. Do what you can to avoid problem areas. If your child hates getting dressed, maybe let him sleep in his clothes for the next day. If he doesn’t like rushing through breakfast, allow plenty of time for a full bowl of cereal or jam on toast.
If there’s an unavoidable activity that you know your child will hate, like a trip to the doctor, do what you can to prepare your them for the event by talking through what to expect. And – just to get through it – I’m not above bribery. Use something you know your child loves, whether it’s a Curious George dvd or a few M&M’s!
The most important thing is to somehow make it through these Terrible Twos with the least amount of collateral damage. Keep your sanity and avoid squashing your toddler’s spirit. And above all, pace yourself – because the next phase of childhood will bring its own set of surprises!