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We’ve arrived at the terrible twos…again. The tantrums aren’t that bad…yet. But since I have an older son (now 5), I know what’s coming.
The first time, I thought it was me. Or at least that it was partly me. I wasn’t giving him enough attention. I wasn’t handling things well enough. I wasn’t calm enough. I wasn’t fun enough. A good tantrum phase can really make you doubt yourself.
So, like a good mom, I searched the net and it came up with the advice that children who throw tantrums generally need more quality time, i.e. give them more attention. I tried, trust me I tried. I played for hours on end, moving cars back and forth. I gave him compliments about all the stuff he got right. I made sure to hug him, to run with him, to make him laugh.
You know, sometimes even lots of TLC isn’t going to work. Sometimes, there’s just so much going on in those little heads that the fuse just blows. No amount of attention is going to really prevent it, which is important takeaway #1: Your kid throwing a tantrum is not because you’re a bad parent.Your kid throwing a tantrum is not because you're a bad parent. Click To Tweet
How to deal with tantrums – Part 1
However, there are ways to deal with the terrible twos and to make the phase somewhat easier. In total I have for you 11 tips for surviving a tantrum phase. (And yes, it is just a phase…this one will pass also.) I thought I could write everything in one post, but it was already a pretty long post when I got only halfway through! Since I want to give you some solid information I didn’t really want to skimp on anything either. Often, parenting included, the devil is in the detail. So I want things to be clear 🙂
5 Terrible Twos Toddler Tantrum Survival Strategies
Therefore, today I have the first 5 tips. These first 5 tips on surviving toddler tantrums are pretty much day to day strategies that you can use in any situation. They will improve the overall moodiness of the typical two-year-old.
In my next post, I’m going to give you 6 more tips. These relate more to what to do when the actual tantrum looms at (or over) the horizon. I will post those on Monday.
1. Let them choose
Another good trick is to give your toddler choices throughout the day. Do you want an apple or a banana? Do you want cheese or peanut butter on your sandwich? Letting them choose gives them things in their lives that they get to decide about. Remember that a lot of stuff is decided for them: when they sleep, what they eat, which toys we buy, etc, etc.
Their characters are fully in development, but with very little way of expressing their desires. Giving them some space, within limits that you set, can avert some of the frustration.
2. Accept their choices
Of course, this also means accepting their choices. Such as the choice to not eat at all. You really can’t make them eat, at least not without negative long term consequences, so simply don’t try.
Just this morning, my youngest son wanted a banana.
We like to see things go a certain way, that is our way. And sometimes this is definitely necessary, but always ask yourself whether it is really necessary. Would making the banana a breaking point have achieved anything?
If possible give them the time and the space to do things their way and accept those choices, if possible and safe.
3. Encourage “do myself”
Another way of getting a handle on the terrible twos is to let your tot try things himself when he wants to.
At this age there are often many things toddlers would like to do themselves. Sometimes they can, but many times they can’t or aren’t very efficient and fast at it. However, if they are allowed to at least try it themselves, they are often far more appeased when they figure out this isn’t working by themselves. Rather than have a parent jump in and do it “the right way.”
And, who knows, your tot might surprise you by being able to fix quite a lot himself.
4. Plan ahead
During the morning, or even the night before, think of how the day is going to unfold. What do you need to do then, where will playtime fit in, what does all that mean for nap-time. If you know these things, and know approximately at which times you need to do what, then you can announce this to your child.
For instance, this morning we’ll play with the trains, then we do groceries and then it’s time for a sandwich and napping. Later on you can announce that they have another 5 minutes of playtime before everyone needs to put on their shoes for grocery shopping. Make sure to repeat the announcement around the 1 minute mark.
This give toddlers the opportunity to adjust to the things that are going to come. Put yourself in their shoes, if you were having fun with your favorite hobby, thinking you could continue for the rest of the day and someone walked in shouting: “Put on your shoes! We need to go now!” How would you like that? Not very much, I bet. But when people discuss the days plans first, then that changes your mindset too. It’s the same way for your child.
5. Don’t say no if you don’t have to
There are many times during the day that we say no to our children. For good reason: a lot of the ideas they come up with just aren’t safe. Or take too long and you want to make it back home in time for dinner. Or there is something else on the agenda already.
However, there is also a sleuth of time we say no when we don’t have to. Would I rather not have my kids jump in puddles, keep the house clean and shoes dry. Of course! But it’s an unnecessary no, where I would be in the way of something my children greatly enjoy. And so I let them. When we get home, I change them into clean clothes and put their shoes somewhere warm (or, in rare cases, in the washing machine because they’re that filthy).
Terrible Twos Takeaways
In conclusion: these are some tips that work for toddlers in the midst of their terrible twos, but also older children, which will get you through the daily situations. Giving them some space to make their own decisions and develop their character should already avert many a tantrum.
- Let them choose
- Accept their choices
- Encourage DIY
- Plan ahead
- Don’t say no if you don’t have to
Go ahead and download my free Terrible Twos Cheat Sheet and stick it to the fridge. Here’s a sneak preview:
On Monday, my next post will be part II of dealing with tantrums. There, I will talk about what to do when the fuse is already blowing, or gone completely. Again, don’t blame yourself, the terrible twos happen and are part of perfectly normal toddler behavior.
Hope to see you on Monday!