Top tips to help navigate the terrible twos

When your child reaches the age of two, they may start to feel angry and frustrated due to an inability to verbally communicate their wants and needs. This anger and frustration often manifests as a temper tantrum or more physically through kicking, biting or hitting.

This type of behaviour is frustrating and exhausting for parents, and often a stage in their child's life which they dread. However, there are some simple tips to help you mitigate, manage and navigate the terrible twos.

Find the root of the tantrum

There is a reason that your child is playing up, and the trick is to determine what's at the core of their behaviour. It could be something as simple as the child being hungry or tired.

Alternatively, it may be over-stimulation, jealousy of another child or the fact they want something that you're not willing or able to give them. It's important to calmly and clearly communicate to determine what the problem is, so that you can solve it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Offer choices

Offering your child a choice can prevent a tantrum from happening. When a child thinks they have no choice, they rebel because they feel powerless.

Giving a choice empowers and encourages the child to think and have a mind of their own. For example, replace 'we need to brush your teeth now', with 'which shall we do first, put on your pyjamas or brush your teeth?'

Use positive language and explain

Most of us can become short-tempered and snappy, particularly when dealing with an uncooperative two-year-old. At times like these it's easy to over-use negative words like 'no', and 'stop'.

Instead, it's important to use positive language and communicate what it is that you do want them to do and why. Instead of saying 'don't run into the road', explain 'roads are dangerous so let's make sure we always stay on the pavement where it's safe and look left and right to check the road is clear before crossing.' By doing this they are more likely to repeat positive behaviour next time.

Forewarn them of your plans

When we're engaged in an activity, it can be difficult to stop and move on to something else. For children it's exactly the same, but often harder because they don't understand why they need to stop. Therefore tantrums can often occur when it's time to leave somewhere or cease an activity they are enjoying.

In these cases, it's important to give them fair warning about what's going to happen, rather than spring it on them and expect them to drop everything happily. For instance, 'you're going to have to stop playing with the Lego in 10 minutes because we need to pick your sister up from school', then communicate the message again when there is five minutes to go, three minutes and one minute. By the time you need to leave, they will have processed the change mentally before having to follow through with it physically.

References:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/temper-tantrums.aspx