If there’s one thing that has been sent to severely test parents’ patience, it’s the terrible twos! And if you’re currently in the throes of this stage of your kiddie’s development or you have the feeling they’re just around the corner, you’re no doubt looking for some advice on how to get through the terrible twos.
And while it’s all well and good saying that this phase will pass (which it will, we promise) that’s not much help if you’re trying to read this post while a screaming toddler is having a full blown breakdown on the lounge floor.
We know just how exhausting it is dealing with this tumultuous time in your little one’s life, so we hope this guide to getting through the terrible twos will help.
Why is it Called the Terrible Twos?
The terrible twos is a period of time that begins around the age of eighteen months and phases out during your child’s third year. Many, but not all, children experience tantrums and mood swings at this age, caused by the frustration of not being able to adequately communicate their needs.
Unfortunately the terrible twos are not as easily defined as 365 days of highs and lows. Needless to say, they don’t start the day your one-year-old turns two – and they don’t magically disappear on their third birthday.
How to Get Through the Terrible Twos
If the very words ‘just wait until they’re two!’ strike fear into your heart it’s well worth lining up some coping techniques for when the time comes – or for getting you through the other side relatively unscathed right now.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that going through this time is a natural learning process for your child and you’re not going to eliminate bad behaviour completely – but you should be able to limit it or at least deal with it better when it inevitably happens.
So how can you cope with this tricky-to-navigate period with your sanity (mostly) intact?
Tips for Getting Through the Terrible Twos
Don’t Give In
Giving in to your child’s demands can be tempting to keep the peace but it sets a precedent. It becomes learned behaviour and your little one will start to see that there is a pattern of throwing a tantrum and then, eventually, getting their desired result.
It might make life easier for you now, but it won’t do so further down the line.
Try Distraction Tactics
It feels like common sense to explain to your child why misbehaving isn’t good. But just as your child’s oral skills are not yet fully developed, neither too is their comprehension. A lengthy discourse on good and bad behaviour is likely to get lost in translation.
Instead try and redirect your toddler’s attention (physically or verbally) to something else while you’re in the moment.
Ensure Children Aren’t Bored
Disinterest can result in a need for attention. Which often results in ‘acting out’. If you’re in a social setting such as a cafe or shop – places where a little one could be easily bored – try to engage them in activities that can help ward off boredom-induced tantrums.
Get them involved in what you’re doing. Bring books. Have fun. Get through the terrible twos!
Tell Your Child What’s Happening
Yes, you’re going to the supermarket and it’s not all that much fun (for anyone!) but by explaining to your toddler beforehand what’s going to happen you will stand a better chance of avoiding triggers.
For example, “You’re not allowed sweets now, but once we’ve finished shopping and if you’ve been good then we’ll have a treat.”
Follow a Routine
A tired child is an irritable child. Lessen the likelihood of outbursts by planning essential errands, chores and trips around feeding and nap times. We know it might not always be possible but by working around the times that your child isn’t as hungry or tired will help to keep things running smoothly.
What Causes the Terrible Twos?
As your baby develops into a toddler, they are beginning to grow, both physically and mentally. They start to become aware of their sense of self which leads to them wanting to do things independently.
However, just because they want to do something, it doesn’t mean they can. Although your toddler has the mental capacity to think about doing, wanting or needing something, it’s highly probable that their physical skills aren’t quite at a point where they can achieve the desired end result.
In addition to this, most toddlers don’t yet have the ability to ask for help, or explain why something is so important due to their language skills still being in the early stages of development.
And all of this leads to frustration – which often manifests itself in a temper tantrum, meltdown or bad behaviour.
Can the Terrible Twos Come Early?
As we briefly touched upon, if you’re wondering how to get through the terrible twos, the not so great news is that they can start before a child’s second birthday.
While many children start ramping up the frustration at around eighteen months, the terrible twos can even come as early as twelve months.
And as mentioned, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be able to wave goodbye to them the moment your little one turns three.
When Will the Terribles Twos End?
This question has possibly been on the lips of every parent since the start of time. So when do the terrible twos end?
The bad news is that the tantrums and mood swings can last well into years three, or even four. However, you should find they become less frequent than they were during your little one’s second year.
All we can say is hang on in there – the terrible twos will end, eventually!
Learn More about Little Angels Nursery
At Little Angels nurseries we are more than used to dealing with children who are going through the terrible twos and our empathy for both children and parents during this difficult time is what sets us apart.
We’re located near Southwark Bridge and Perkins Square and we’d love to help your child learn and grow whilst we help you both get through the terrible twos.
Sign up for one of our nursery open days or download a brochure now – we look forward to talking to you soon.