Everyone has heard of them and every parent dreads them. The Terrible Two's can be a tough time on everyone; the constant tantrums, mood swings, a once good eater will now only eat yogurt, sleep regression and more. Even though this is a scary and unpredictable time, it is also one of the most extraordinary times with your child. They are able to communicate using words, their personailty is becoming their own, they are becoming more independent each day and always learning new things. Here are some tips that I found help you survive those terrible days:
1. Schedule - One of the most important things that I have learned and live by is a schedule. It doesnt have to be a strict by the minute schedule, but having a wake-up, meal, naptime and bedtime schedule is important to not only your toddler, but for you as well. My schedule with my toddler has an hour leaniency to allow for later play dates, appointments that run long or if he is just not tired yet. For example, we do naptime at 11am till 1pm, but I make sure to have him in bed for nap or quiet time at 12pm at the latest. I find that when you are having a rough day you at least know by a certain time they will be in bed and you can have time to breathe. This also helps with planning your day.
2. Avoid Certain Times - One thing all parents hate are those meltdowns in public. You just want to get through groceries, but your toddler has another idea to lay down in the middle of the aisle and throw an epic tantrum. Although we can't fully avoid those “fun” meltdowns there are some ways try and prevent them. Don't take you child out during nap time, close to bedtime or when overtired. Other times to avoid are meal times. Don't take them out if they are sick or overtired. If they are having a bad day in general its probably not the best to take them out. As a mom I know sometimes you just have to get out and get things done. I find that taking toys to distract, a favorite stuffed animal or portable game really helps. Also, try and make running around as quick and few places as possible during those times. If they are having a tantrum, if possible remove them from the situation or the cause calmly, then get down to your child's level and explain to them why it was not okay. If they are unable to calm down try a hug to reassure them that you are there, but that the behaviour is not acceptable. The more worked up you are the more worked up they get. Even though they might be fighting you or not listening they need to know that they are loved and that you will be there.
3. Balanced Meals- We all know how we feel after eating junk all day: sluggish, tired, grumpy, well kids are the same. Toddlers can be extrememly picky, but in order to have optimal energy and to help keep moods elevated they need a balanced diet (treats are great too in moderation). I have an extremely picky eater and struggle with this every day. The best advice I was given was, "All you can do is choose what and when the food is offered and they choose how much and what they eat." Its very true you don't want to force a child to eat or they will develop an unhealty relationship with food. So make sure to offer healthy balanced meals and snacks.
4. Sleep-Plain and simple just like us if they are not getting enough sleep then they are much more prone to crankiness and tantrums. A proper schedule will ensure proper sleep.
5. Offer Choices- Remeber your child is learning who they are and what they like and don`t like. They are figuring out that they have a say and can make choices for themselves. By giving them choices they will feel like they have some power. Give them simple choices, for example, clothes to wear, toys to play with, to play inside or outside, etc.
6. Patience - Although this can be one of the hardest it will be the most rewarding. Children are going through a lot of physical and psychological changes all the while discovering many new things every day. It can become overwhelming and scary for your toddler. They might not know how to react or are just plain overwhelmed and become extremely uspet and difficult, they need you to be patient with them while they figure it out. Sometime parents get so caught up in making their child so well behaved that they forget that they have feelings too and are allowed to express them and feel them; its up to us to be patient and help them do it in a positive way and let them know that no matter what they are feeling we will always be there and love them.
7. Independence with Boundaries- For your child's learning, it is important that they have independence, but also know the boundaries. For example, in the grocery store if your child does not want to sit in the cart let them walk with you, push the cart or hold on to it and if they do not listen then they have to sit in the cart. This way they get to explore their independence, but they also know they are not to go running around or there will be consequences.
8. Time For Yourself- It can be hard as a parent to find time for yourself, but it is very important. You need time to relax and recharge.
9. Friend/Support- Whether it be friends, family, or other parents, everyone needs someone they can talk to about all the good and difficult times raising a child. There are many great programs and support/parenting groups to meet new life long friends and get great support.
10 It is just a PHASE (right?) . Finally, although the Terrible Twos can be a tricky and confusing time for you and your child its just a phase. Hopefully these tips help you enjoy the "Terrible Two's," instead of dread them.
Erica Blunn is one of the owner of Guelph's newest resource for families, Guelph Kids Guide.com. If you are looking for fun activities to do with your family and your kids check it out.