Photo by Jep Gambardella via Pexels

Tips for Terrible 2s: Get Ahead of the Game

January 16, 2024

by lucy, guest contributor

In the 1950s, a term called the terrible twos was coined. This phrase describes a challenging time for parents as they navigate their 2-year-old exhibiting challenging behaviors that can include tantrums, challenging authority, and frequent mood swings. This potent combination can make even the simplest tasks, such as parents getting their children dressed, extremely stressful in some cases. But luckily, there are ways that parents can reduce the strain of the terrible twos on both parties. 

Distraction is Your Friend

Think about how, when you have experienced negative emotions yourself, you can make yourself feel better. Several of your answers are likely a form of distraction, such as putting on your favorite film or calling your friend; this distraction helps us distance ourselves from the thing that has upset us and relax. We can then tackle the problem we are facing with a fresh, more pragmatic thought process. 

Young children have not developed the skills to be able to calm themselves down, meaning it is up to you to reframe their thoughts on to more positive things. Distraction is a very effective way to achieve this. You could try giving your child a plush toy or taking your child to a different room in the house. Music is another thing that may distract your child from their tantrum.

Give Your Child Two Choices

Giving your child two reasonable choices, such as choosing either an apple or a banana, can give your child a sense of authority that they are craving while ensuring that you stay in control. This way, they have chosen what they want to eat out of the options you have given them, meaning they are less likely to kick off because they want some other piece of food instead. 

Teach Your Child Breathing Techniques

As your child develops from age 2 upwards, you can teach them breathing techniques that can help calm them down if they are feeling upset or stressed. This can help your child better self-regulate their own emotions, meaning that they are less likely to direct their anger outwards.

These breathing techniques can be useful for your child's entire life, as they can effectively calm themselves down in stressful situations. Use these same strategies yourself if you find yourself emotionally escalating as a result of your child's actions or general temperament. 

Ensure That Your Child is in a Safe Space

Think about your emotions again. Whenever you are angry about something, you are more likely to act irrationally. Imagine that you did not know that anything could ever be dangerous to you. 

This is what the world feels like to small children; they do not have any sense of danger. It is always important that you keep your child in a safe environment where potential dangers are kept out of their reach as much as possible. You should also ensure that you are always on the ball when you are supervising your small child, even if they are in what appears to be a completely safe environment.

Keep Snacks Handy; Don’t Give Your Child Too Much Sugar

Giving your child a snack can be a good way to distract them from their tantrum and can help satisfy their hunger (haven't we all been hangry, after all?). You should mostly focus on giving your child healthy snacks like fruit and veggie sticks instead of sugar-filled snacks such as chocolate or candy. A good trick I’ve learned is that if they crave the taste of chocolate, give them dates, which are renowned for their health and chocolate-like taste so it's a win-win.

By reducing your child's sugar intake, you are protecting their general health, including the health of their teeth. It’s also a great routine and habit you are instilling at a young age for them to bring into their teens and adulthood. Not to mention, you’re potentially saving their teeth from countless fillings and damage. Although some of this can be attributed to genetics, you can moderate what your children eat and do as much preventive dental care as possible.

If genetics is something you are concerned about and want to ensure you are doing all you can, you can get your toddler used to the dentist by going for regular checkups. Here, your local dentist in Leamington Spa can not only check for any early signs of problems but they can also give you useful advice. This can not only act as some reassurance but also ensure you have no tantrums due to sore teeth. 

Building a healthy relationship with oral care and your toddler will ensure there are no fights when it comes to snacks throughout the day and brushing their teeth.

Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

One of the main reasons small children get upset is because they are tired. By setting up a consistent sleep schedule, you can plan your activities around the times throughout the day that your young child is sleeping. If you do not have a consistent schedule, your child may need/want to sleep, but you may be out of the house running errands, which could create a big feelings moment for your child who just needs his sleep.

Ask Them What Made Them Upset

You should ask your child if they are old enough to communicate with you about what caused them to get upset. If they have a toddler-prone problem, such as being tired or hungry, you can use this information to better attend to their needs in the future. 

This might be classified as calm parenting. Teaching your child communication skills is crucial for them to grow up with healthy skills and attachment styles. At the end of the day, your toddler is still learning how to express their feelings and if you give them a chance to calm themselves and explain - to the best of their ability - you can then effectively communicate and encourage them to use their words instead of throwing a tantrum. 

As someone who was raised with the opposite of calm parenting, I think it pushed me into my shell when it comes to asking for things I want; even the bare minimum will fill me with anxiety and while I don’t think I threw many tantrums, my parents did the best handling them. However, I think it is important to understand this and use it when it comes to raising the next generation.

There are multiple ways you can help your child calm down during an outburst and prevent them from having a tantrum in the first place. Trial and error will help you to discover what works best for your little one. 

related articles: