There comes a time in every parent’s life when their sweet, angelic baby seems to undergo a personality change and turns into an unrecognizable monster. This stage, also known as the terrible twos is a phrase deemed to strike terror into the hearts of even the most seasoned parents! Consider yourself lucky if your child stops being a terror at 3- for some of us the terrible twos continues well past the 3rd year. Let’s look at some tips on how to best handle this phase.
Understand Why: The first step in dealing with any situation is to know why it’s happening. As your child is turning two, they start discovering independence. Everything overnight becomes a battle of Us vs Them. But no matter how frustrating it may seem, the important thing to understand is that this is an essential developmental milestone in your child’s life. Assertion of independence is what teaches them to be self-sufficient. As they discover that they can accomplish tasks like brushing their teeth, wearing clothes, picking up their toys, etc. this gives a huge boost to their confidence.
Reward & Punishment: While trying to be independent is a good thing, there are always dangers you will need to protect your child from. The reward and punishment approach works really well in these cases. It’s important to teach your child to distinguish between the good tasks (getting ready, folding their clothes) and the dangerous ones (crossing the road, touching something hot). Telling them repeatedly might work but if you reinforce this with a reward (candy, hugs & kisses, toys) or a punishment (taking away a favorite toy, time-out), the lesson will be learnt much faster.
Remove yourself from the Scene: There will be times when your frustration levels are at an all-time high. Instead of losing your temper and getting into a shouting match with your child, it’s always better to remove yourself from the scene briefly. I found that going into the bathroom and taking deep calming breaths helped me get my temper under control. It also helps your child realize that mom will disappear from line of vision if they misbehave. Remember, if they see you shouting they are going to think it’s okay to shout and end up shouting back at you!
Avoid Comparisons: As parents it’s our natural tendency to want our child to be the best at everything. As a result of which even the most careful of us fall prey to the folly of comparisons. There were times when I unwittingly found myself telling my daughter about how some friend of hers were doing so-and-so things better than her. I had to make a conscious effort to not repeat that mistake. For a child, comparison essentially means you are saying some other child is better than him/her. This will, over time either make them defiant or undermine their confidence.
Most importantly, remember that it’s a phase and this too shall pass. Before you realize they will be all grown up and won’t need you to monitor every action of theirs. So the next time you feel like tearing your hair out, tell yourself its temporary and scream into the nearest pillow!!