Your child is about to turn two. The bad news is that this can be a very difficult age for you and for them. The good news is that it will only last for one year…or will it? The truth is that the terrible twos can happen at any age and just because their third birthday comes does not mean it is over. But I digress. Right now we are talking about the REAL terrible twos. So, how can you get through them without going grey and continuously asking yourself why you chose to have kids in the first place?
Here are a few good tips to go by below.
Tip 1: Discipline
Hearing the word discipline in the same sentence with two year old makes many parents uncomfortable. Many parents think of it as something that their little ones are too young for. The truth is that it is never really too early to begin discipline. It is the methods you choose that matter. When a two year old misbehaves it would obviously not be appropriate to take away a toy or give them a spanking (which is of course a controversial form of discipline in itself). Instead, try using time outs. Even at two children need to understand on some level that there are consequences for negative behavior. If you use this technique you should always keep their age in mind. This means that you should not put them in time out for 10 minutes or even 5. A good rule of thumb is one minute for each year of their life. Two minutes will feel like 10 for a two year old.
Tip 2: Distraction
Many times, the reason for bad behavior in a child this age is the environment. What do you do when you are in a place that is not working well for you? The answer is that you leave and it should be the same for your two year old. If your child is acting out because he or she is over stimulated by their environment then change the environment. Out of sight out of mind; no truer words have ever been spoken. Also, if your child is doing something that they should not be doing, saying no without a good answer behind it can back fire very quickly. Now I am not one of those parents who thinks saying no is a bad thing, but I do know when to use the word. Saying no to a two year old is pretty worthless in most situations. Try this instead, “We cannot do this because this can happen. How about we go over here and do this instead.” And this brings me to my final tip….redirection.
Tip 3: Redirection
Redirection and distraction go hand and hand. When your child is doing something that you do not want them doing, try redirection. What this means is that if they are playing with something very loud and you need them to have some quiet time, instead of just telling them to stop (which again, can back fire) tell them how about we do this instead. Finding another activity for them to do is key to keeping the terrible two tantrums at bay. Also, give them choices. You will get much better results if you say “you can have milk, apple juice or grape juice” then if you say “you can have milk”. Even a two year old wants to feel that they have some control over what happens in their lives so offer it to them in a way that is safe and convincing.
These tips can help with two year olds, three year olds, etc. As your child grows older you will have to be more creative in how you present things to them, but if you can learn how to do this you will be able to avoid a lot of strife. This will allow you to enjoy the two year mark and develop a better, more successful relationship with your child.
A rational and realistic approach to parenting that no one’s ever shown you.