The Terrific Terrible Twos?

On our little one’s way to life in the fast lane, there are many, many, many speed bumps.  About half of those seem to come during that little span of time we call The Terrible Twos.  It’s those early years of development that hit somewhere between the ages of 1-3 when our child wants to do everything on her own, when the need for “me do it” goes beyond asking and into wild animal kicking on the floor and screaming.  It’s frustration nation for almost all of us as parents.  But there are a couple of things parents and pediatric specialists tell us we can do to help them become terrific years… well, tolerable anyway.

1-      Learn to discern your child’s triggers.  When we identify those things that usually set them off, avoid them.  Often these triggers are changes in a routine.  It may be difficult sometimes, but tell you friends you can’t make it to coffee because you know who needs his nap.

2-      Get down on your child’s level, physically and figuratively.  When she is trying to say something, get down to her, eye to eye.  It may mean rolling on the ground with her, but she will see you are trying to understand her.  And put yourself in her shoes.  Try to become, not literally of course, a two-year-old who is tired, hungry and frustrated.  It may help you communicate with her.  Just make sure to close the blinds to the neighbors first.

3-      Always praise, praise, praise for those little things done well.  It seems so obvious, but we really do forget.  Especially when they think we’re not watching and they pick up a toy and put it away, make a party out of it.

4-      Find just five more minutes out of your day to sit down and play Hi-Ho Cherry O one more time.  They need you most of the time, that’s all.  Just reach deep and find a couple more ounces of energy and fulfill their need for you.

5-      Give them the power of decisions.  This doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, important life decisions.  But if you are deciding between carrots or corn for dinner, ask your child.  When getting dressed in the morning, let him decide between the red t-shirt or the blue one.  This gives him not only control of his environment, but the confidence he needs to develop himself later in life.

Most importantly, put the whole think in perspective- it really will get better.  While validating your little one’s frustration, learn to laugh and make light of a tantrum in your heart.  Be consistent in your rules and don’t forget to praise the little things.  Those years don’t end up being so terrible anymore.

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