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Early years

07th Nov 2023

Five ways to deal with the terrible twos and threes

terrible twos toddler

The toddler years can be tough – that’s an understatement.

So tough that there’s another name for them; the terrible twos and threes.

Characterised by increased physical activity, more expressive emotions, mood swings, and temper tantrums, it’s a workout both literally and emotionally.

As your child gains their independence and learns to set their own limits, sometimes in return they push you to yours.

There are five ways to make it through the terrible twos and threes.

terrible twos toddler

Adjust your expectations

Having realistic expectations about what the two-year-olds are like and what you should expect of them in terms of behaviour can go a long way.

Remember that just because your child can walk and talk doesn’t mean they’re ready for complex instructions, so have patience.

Give your child two choices

This will give them a chance to feel in control of the situation. During snack time, you can offer your child a banana or an apple.

Both options in this example are good, but make sure the options are ones you’re content with.

terrible twos toddler

Have a routine

This can help to pre-empt any tantrums before they even happen, helping to manage their behaviour.

This may involve consistent responses to unwanted actions and consistent positive affirmations for good behaviour.

Creating predictable routines around daily activities such as naps can also reduce anxiety and decrease tantrums.

Distract can be your friend

Distracting your toddler is actually a very effective strategy you can use during a tantrum.

The key thing to remember is that your child is upset as a result of their ongoing development, so reasoning may not help you.

Distraction from these big feelings can help both of you cope.

terrible twos toddler

Help your child find their calm

You can help kids develop skills to find their calm like deep breathing.

You can teach this when your child is not in tantrum mode so that, when they are, they will be able to draw on those skills and use them.

For example, if your child is beginning to become dysregulated, you might be able to remind them that they aren’t calm which should remind them to use previously learned techniques.

Praise any attempts your child makes to regulate themselves.

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