It’s not called the Terrible Twos for nothing. Tantrums, meltdowns, and shrieks of ‘Gimme!’ and ‘No!’ and ‘Me do it!’ are par for the course. The good news is that behind those battles of will is a very important milestone: your child is asserting independence, borne from the realization that he is a separate individual with personal preferences and the ability to make things happen.
However, your todder’s desire for control often leads to frustration: she knows what she wants, but often lacks the motor skills or language skills to fully do or express what she wishes. Here’s how to help her deal with the emotions and minimize unnecessary frustration (and the accompanying tantrums).
Choose the battles
We can’t give in to our toddler’s every wish—especially if what she wants puts her in danger—but it’s important to give her some kind of choice. Offer two or three acceptable alternatives. She has to go to the doctor, but you can ask her: ‘Do you want to bring your Colors book or your Fish book?’ She needs to go to bed, but she may be thrilled by the opportunity to pick what pajamas to wear.
A little creative psychology helps, too. Let’s say you’re in a hurry. She’ll scream if you pick her up and carry her against her will, but you can turn it into a game: ‘Want to pretend Mommy’s a horse? Come on, pull me home! Giddyap, giddyap!’
Develop social skills
One of the hardest and most important skills that your toddler must master is interacting with other people. This includes sharing, waiting one’s turn, and being sensitive to other’s feelings (like why it’s not a good idea to hit Grandma with a hard plastic toy).
Practice makes perfect. Play dates can help her get used to being with other kids. He also learns manners (like saying please and thank you) from watching you and, of course, being repeatedly reminded during everyday interactions. But be patient. This won’t happen overnight, or even over a year. You will need to help keep the peace and explain things, over and over again. And, when emotions escalate, a timeout can help your toddler calm down.
Choose age-appropriate toys
Give a toddler a gadget designed for a six-year-old and he will inevitably grow angry at not being able to figure out the buttons or handle the small pieces. However, toddler toys are designed for toddler hands—and present just enough challenges for him to learn a new skill.
That doesn’t mean he won’t experience some frustration. He may grow angry when a square brick won’t fit into the round holes of a hammer peg toy. But don’t rush in and immediately ‘fix’ it for him. He needs to learn and figure it out. If ever, offer only the minimum amount of help or hint. ‘Try another hole, sweetie.’ Or, guide his fingers in the right direction.
Photo from rebeccathewrecker.wordpress.com