Ah, the dreaded ‘terrible twos’ – the phase that every parent fears. It’s a time when your little angel turns into a tiny terror, and you’re left wondering where your sweet child went. But don’t worry, mums, you’re not alone! All parents have to face this phase, and we’re here to help you survive it. Here are ten top tips to keep in your back pocket for making it through the terrible twos.
1. Be consistent
One of the most important things you can do during the ‘terrible twos’ is to be consistent. Toddlers thrive on routine, and they need to know what to expect. Establish a daily routine for your child, including mealtimes, nap times, and playtime. Stick to this routine as much as possible, even on weekends, and your child will feel more secure, meaning less meltdowns. Hopefully…
2. Pick your battles
Toddlers are notorious for testing boundaries, and it can be tempting to want to discipline them for every little thing they do. However, it’s essential to pick your battles. Choose to enforce the things that matter the most, such as safety issues or bad behavior, and let the rest go. It’s not worth it for either of you to feel like you’re constantly locking horns over every little thing.
3. Redirect their attention
If your child is misbehaving or in the midst of a temper tantrum, try to redirect their attention. Toddlers have short attention spans, so if you can distract them with a new toy or activity, they may forget about what was causing the problem. It’s still important to make sure that your toddler feels like their emotions are validated and important, so try to use the redirect method as a fall-back option for those times when you really need a trick up your sleeve.
4. Give them choices
Toddlers are a walking contradiction at times – they crave boundaries and discipline, but at this age are constantly pushing for control over their lives. Give them choices between two options (chosen by you!) whenever possible, to help them build independence and self-confidence, but within the limits that you decide. This could be letting them choose which outfit to wear or which book to read. This can go a long way to help reduce tantrums and make them feel more independent.
5. Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it comes to parenting, and it comes down to focussing more on the good than the bad. When your child behaves well, praise them and recognise how much you appreciate it – especially when this has been an issue that you’ve been having in the past. This can help reinforce good behaviour and encourage them to keep it up.
5. Take care of yourself
Parenting is tough, and it’s easy to get burnt out. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too – every little bit counts. Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly. Take time for yourself when you can, even if it’s just a few minutes to read a book or take a bath. When you’re feeling good, you’ll be a better parent, you’ll have more patience and energy and your toddler will pick up on this. Taking care of yourself is a win-win for everyone!
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help
This is a big one, and can be one of the hardest things to admit that you need help. But remember, it truly does take a village to raise a child, and there’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to friends or family members for support. You can also consider hiring a nanny or using an in-home service like ours to take some of the pressure off. Most importantly, don’t wait until you’re at boiling point before you reach out.
8. Stay calm
It’s so easy to get frustrated when your toddler is throwing a tantrum or misbehaving, but it’s important to stay calm. Take a deep breath and count to ten before responding. If you need to, even leave the room for a moment to recollect yourself. By doing this you’re teaching your toddler how to regulate their emotions and setting a good example for them to learn. However, if you react with anger, it can escalate an already emotionally-charged situation and make it worse.
9. Offer plenty of opportunities for exploration
Toddlers are curious little creatures and love to explore the world around them. Offer plenty of opportunities for exploration, such as going on nature walks, playing with sensory toys, or visiting a museum. This can help keep them occupied and engaged, and also help them learn and develop new skills. If your toddler is having a bad day, try a change of situation into nature – in the backyard if you have one, or even a walk to the closest park. Sometimes just getting out into fresh air makes a world of difference.
10. Keep a sense of humour
Last but not least, try to keep a sense of humour. Toddlers can be frustrating, but they’re also incredibly entertaining. Try to find the humour in the situation, and don’t take everything too seriously. Before you know it, this phase will pass, and you’ll look back on it with fondness (or at least a little bit of humour. We hope!).
Remember, the ‘terrible twos’ can be challenging, but they’re also a time of tremendous growth and development. With a little bit of patience, consistency, and creativity, you can help your child navigate this phase and emerge even stronger on the other side. And if you ever need a helping hand, remember that Mum’s Village Coast to Coast is here to support you. Visit our website at https://mumsvillagecoasttocoast.com.au/ or reach out to learn more about our in-home services for busy mums.
You got this mama!