It’s dreaded by parents all around but it’s something most have to deal with. Read on to learn how to tackle the terrible twos.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
While it may be frightening and tiring to have your child go through the terrible twos, there are ways for you to handle your little one’s moody outbursts and tantrums effectively.
Don’t be Overprotective
The first instinct for a parent whose child is eager to explore her independence is to protect and keep the child from going overboard with her experiments and adventure. While you should set limits for your child, trying to stifle her from exploring the world may cause her to lash out. “Allow her to test boundaries and to try new things herself,” says Dr Vanessa von Auer, clinical psychologist at VA Psychology Center.
While your first reaction to your child’s cries and yells may be to cry and yell yourself, it is important to try and remain calm and not lose your temper. “Punishments and aggression should be avoided as it reinforces to your child that it is okay to use them,” says Daniel Koh, psychologist from Insights Mind Centre. Instead, offer comfort to your child when she is having a temper tantrum.
Avoid the Word “No”
Dr von Auer advises that parents try to avoid saying “no” to their child so that the child will not think that saying “no” is acceptable when she is being disobedient. Try using alternative methods to discipline your child such as redirection. Redirection will help to refocus your child’s energy into something positive.
Be Consistent in Your Discipline
Do not give in by buying your child candy or toys to pacify her screaming and yelling. Once your child learns that she can get what she wants through her outbursts, she will try to do it again. “Set rules and boundaries before it becomes a problem and stick to it,” says Koh. By staying consistent in disciplining your child, she will think more about her behaviour and learn the rules that have been set.
Accept Your Child’s Challenging Behaviours
“This will demonstrate your love, trust and respect for her, which in turn will help her navigate through this stage successfully,” says Dr von Auer.
When your child displays good behaviour, provide her with regular praise. This lets your child know that you care about her, which will encourage her to follow the rules in the future.
Despite being called the terrible twos, this developmental stage does not necessarily end when a child turns three. According to Dr von Auer, the duration of this stage depends on how parents respond to their child, and what the child learns from her interactions with them. Furthermore, behavioural challenges are not only confined at a young age. These challenges can even be seen during your child’s pre-teen and teen years. Dr von Auer says, “Parents should not fear challenging behaviours because this is what is supposed to happen during healthy and normal growing up. Embrace these experiences and help mould your child into a happy, confident individual.”