How to keep your sanity during the Terrible Twos

The Terrible Twos are challenging but using some of these approaches can help you keep the loving bond between you and your child.

Ah, welcome to the “Terrible Twos”! While watching your baby grow into a curious and opinionated toddler is wonderful and rewarding, your tot’s newfound independence can bring with it its own set of challenges, including temper tantrums and mood swings.

It is very common for children to go through a phase of unruly behaviour between 18 months and three years old. Sometimes, this stage can last even longer, lingering until your child turns four. The good news is that there are a few ways of dealing with the Terrible Twos. We chat with Megan Hazel, an expert in childcare and parenting topics, for ways to navigate this tricky phase.

Take a breath

If your child is rebellious or misbehaving, sometimes just stepping out of the room for a few moments, counting to ten, and taking some deep, calming breaths can make all the difference when you re-enter the room to deal with your misbehaving child.

They may then start to associate your leaving the room with “Uh oh, Mommy is mad” rather than associate your screaming and yelling with being angry, which can only be detrimental. This may help calm the child enough that they will be more receptive to your teaching him what behaviour you didn’t like upon your return. Since you will be calmer as well, the discipline will likely be more effective.

Take some “me time”

For a more long-term approach, taking some time for yourself and “getting away from it all” is a good bet to restore your sanity. Take a good block of time on a Saturday or Sunday, two hours, maybe, and mark this time in your calendar in pen, not pencil, as a recurring activity. Keep a standing appointment with yourself, and honour it as you would any other.

Think you are too busy on the weekend to do this, between your toddler’s playdates, errands, and your other family obligations? You will feel much more productive the rest of the weekend, allowing yourself this little refresher, rather than trying to cram some time in on a random Tuesday or another weeknight.

Moreover, you will feel much more able to cope with your child’s behaviour. For this special “adult time-out” time, you can book a massage or a facial at your favourite spa. Take a couple of hours to go window shopping or visit a museum, by yourself or with a friend. Take in a movie with a couple of girlfriends.

If your partner is willing to fly solo on a Saturday night, you can even steal away to your favourite local pub or restaurant with the girls once in a while and let off some steam.

Grow a support network

Getting involved with groups that highlight child behaviour may also help you cope with issues that seem to rear their ugly heads again and again. It can be comforting to have a support network or group of friends with similarly-aged children.

Many of these groups are Moms and Tots-type groups that can be found in your community directory. If no such local groups exist in your area, you can always consult some educational reading material on child behaviour and speak with your doctor if it is getting more and more difficult to control.

Try different approaches

Sometimes, a different approach can give great results. For example, if you are used to taking away a privilege or a toy when your child acts up, perhaps you need another tactic. Calmly tell them why Mommy is upset with the actual behaviour, and explain and speak as if he were older than his actual age.

Your own child may surprise you! On the flip side, sometimes, just not reacting at all can be the best approach. Just like you are getting to know what makes your child tick, he is getting to know what makes you tick as well and will quickly learn how to push your buttons and command your attention. Rather than play into this, ignore his pushy requests, and the negative behaviour may just quietly go away.  

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