It’s time to make a run to the grocery store and your toddler is already throwing a fit about playing with big brother’s toy, who by the way is NOT good at sharing Iron Man. You expect some fits at this stage but today is just not the day for it with all that you have to get done. Here are 5 ways to survive the terrible 2s.
1. Stay cool, calm, and collected.
Being in control means keeping yourself together and approaching the situation with a plan. If you lose your cool, this situation can quickly escalate and your child may be left feeling unloved or fearful of you. When you are calm, you child is more likely to calm down too, and be able to follow your directions and lead. Better yet, he may also learn to react different with this type of repetition in how you handle these types of situations.
2. Remember, you are the adult.
You are responsible for helping your child. The flow of energy should go from parent to child. Although you can’t stop your child from crying or acting out, you are the adult and ultimately have the responsibility to improve the situation.
3. Focus on the positive.
It may be difficult to do in the midst of a meltdown, but pay attention to the good. Have the tantrums reduced in length or intensity since the last one? Have you been more patient or consistent in handling them? Is your child using more words to express what is wrong and trying to communicate it to you? Staying positive will also help you see that you are making progress and that these moments, though very trying, will not last forever.
4. Avoid assuming the worst.
Even the most difficult toddler doesn’t have bad intentions. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by stress or the daily frustrations of parenthood, but just remember that childhood only happens once and your child is still very young. Defiant toddlers are still growing and developing and are not trying to cause trouble. Like living in a foreign place, they are trying to communicate their frustrations with you in the only way they know how. Be patient, be loving.
5. Set consistent limits.
It is important to make appropriate rules and keep them, consistently. They help your child know what behavior is okay and what is not. This is how they learn consequences too. Your toddler looks to you to understand how this world works and what behaviors are okay for them. Tantrums will end much quicker when you stay consistent and calm. Never forget that your child’s tantrums are just a small part of their childhood. There are many joys to it as well. Model healthy ways you want your child to manage intense emotions. How have YOU helped your toddler learn to handle frustrations?
Diana Bigham, LMFT