Terrible Two’s



Terrible two’s: why does it happen and coping strategies that work. No. 6 may surprise you!

Have you ever looked at a mom dealing with a screaming toddler and thought my little angel will never behave like that? I am sure most moms feel their babies are extremely well behaved and consider themselves lucky until one day when your baby turns into a toddler and the tables turn. You look at the screaming, whining child and wonder what happened to the sweet little angel and what did you do to get yourself in this situation!

Terrible twos are real and they really are terrible! It is more to do with a phase than the actual age itself i.e. your toddler could be 18 months or even 30 months when she starts throwing tantrums.

Baby Behaviour

Understanding the phase

In order to be able to deal with this phase and come out of it with our sanity intact, we need to first understand why our toddler is behaving in this strange way.  If we put ourselves in their little shoes, we will realize that this is a very strange phase for them. They are no longer babies and have mastered few skills though there are more skills to master before they can do everything that they actually want to do.

Seeking attention

Toddlers love attention and when they feel ignored or not receiving the kind of attention that they seek, they react by throwing a tantrum. Boredom always equals to tantrums, so, it is very important to keep them occupied.

Unable to communicate                                    

Most toddlers are not masters in communicating and find it very frustrating when others fail to understand them. They vent out their frustration by throwing a tantrum. Therefore, it is very important to equip them with skills that can help them communicate better.

Physical discomfort

Sometimes, the reason for their tantrums could be very elementary like hunger or sleepiness. Toddlers are not interested in taking breaks and they don’t realize when tired. They might throw a tantrum when they are not able to communicate their physical discomfort.

Change in routine

  Toddlers are big fans of routine and love knowing what to expect. Changes in this routine may not be welcome. So if you have a party to attend or want to go shopping during their nap time, they are likely to get frustrated.

Coping strategies

  Here are few things that you can do to get through this phase with your sanity intact.

  1. Distract

The technique that works most of the time is distraction. When your toddler starts throwing a tantrum, remove her from the scene of the crime and then distract her with an activity or a story. For example, if my toddler starts screaming bloody murder when I take her out of the bath, then tell I her story about a princess whose mouth got stuck while she was crying and the queen had to call a genie to get her mouth unstuck.  Always works like a charm!

  1. Ignore

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. At times ignoring a bad behavior can help to put a stop to it. There is no need to react to everything. Walk away from the scene and the tantrum may die down. Make sure that your little one is in a baby/toddler safe place when your ignore mode is on.

  1. Reward good behavior

While you are ignoring bad behavior, ensure that you are praising good behavior. Make a big deal out of any small good deed that they do. Toddlers love appreciation and will try to repeat the good behavior that earned them the appreciation. For example, if she puts away her toy after playing; say “Wow! You put your toy away so neatly. Mamma is so proud of you”.

  1. Stay calm and carry on

Staying calm can seem like a herculean task when a full blown toddler tantrum is in progress, but it helps in preventing a bad situation from getting worse. Only a calm adult can calm a screaming toddler. Try to figure out what is causing the tantrum and then resolve the root cause. Whispering when you are talking to your toddler can also help a great deal. Ask the child what he wants and then explain what is possible and what is not. You will find that your toddler is mimicking you and answering you in whispers! So, stay calm and carry on!

  1. Good old TLC

Sometimes a hug can go a long way in soothing a cranky baby. Cuddle your little one and let him know that you are there for him. Listen to their problem and take it seriously because for your little one it is a serious problem. Try to keep your phones and tabs away when you are spending time with your kid. It is very important to let them know that they always come first.

  1. Use your words

It is a good idea to teach your child to “use their words” as soon as they are able to put a couple of words together. This means that instead of crying or screaming they have to use words to let you know what they want. You can tell him that you are unable to help because you do not understand what he wants. Ask the right questions so that you can understand what he wants. This will also work if your little one hits you or others when upset. They need to be taught to use their words and not their hands or feet.

  1. Offer Choices

Toddlers are actually ‘little people’. They love making their own decisions. So when you offer them choices, they are more likely to play peacefully. For example, if your toddler is showing signs of getting bored of certain activity, you can avoid a screaming/whining session by asking her if she would like to play a game or perhaps read a book. Do not overwhelm her by offering too many choices. Ask simple questions like would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red one.

  1. Keep them informed

Let your toddler know of any change in routine that may occur. For example, if you have a party to attend, let your toddler know that you would be attending a party later in the evening and meeting some new people. Not only are you letting your toddler know that there is a change in routine but at the same time you are also getting her excited about the activity.

While it is painful when a toddler throws tantrum at home, it is a whole new world of pain when your toddler does this in full public view. Take a deep breath and calm yourself. Remove the toddler from the ‘scene of crime’ if possible. Try and find out why the sudden outburst has occurred and find a remedy for it.  Each child is different and some of these tricks may work better than others. Once you have tried them you will know which ones work well for your child and the journey becomes more pleasant for both of you. Don’t forget to remind yourself “this too shall pass”.