Raising babies isn’t easy. We’re so excited when they start walking and talking, and then before we know it they’re able to yell “NO” and run away. If you have a toddler (or almost toddler) you may be wondering what to do about the terrible twos.
How Long Do The ‘TWOs’ Last?
Let’s start by talking about how long the terrible twos will actually be a problem. Well, if you already have a toddler you probably know that the tantrums start well before your baby’s second birthday rolls around. For most kids you can expect this phase to start closer to 18 months, although everyone is different.
The tantrums can also continue past your baby’s third birthday. The good news is that they should become less frequent as time goes on.
Tantrums For Everything
So, what should you expect during this phase? Tantrums for everything!
Here are just some of the things that may set your toddler off:
- Telling them its nap time
- Giving them a banana when they want strawberries
- Not having their favorite toy with you
- Making them share
- Turning off the tv
- Taking anything away
- Saying “NO” in any context
How To Calm Your Toddler
Now for the important part. How do you survive this phase? Here are some of the ways that I handle the meltdowns, depending on the time, place, and cause.
- Avoid the tantrum: If you’re able to avoid the tantrum completely, that is the goal. Making sure that your little one doesn’t skip naptime can be the biggest factor in reducing the number of tantrums you have to deal with. Also keep in mind that at this age one of their biggest frustrations is not being able to communicate what they want. Things like baby sign language can help them communicate more easily.
- Distraction:It’s not possible to avoid all of the meltdowns. One of my favorite ways to snap my son out of it is with a simple distraction. A lot of times its as easy as turning their focus to a different subject. If the tantrum is over a toy, sometimes offering one of their favorite snacks is all it takes.
- Give them space: Sometimes a little space will help a toddler calm down. I’ve learned with my son that, when he throws himself on the floor, if I walk away he will usually stop crying. This approach also comes in handy at naptime, especially if its later than our normal nap. Pre-nap tantrums are a common occurrence around our house but laying down in a quiet room is a great fix.
- Cry with them: This one is easy, because chances are there will be more than a few moments where you’re ready to cry anyway. My son will usually start laughing if I cry at the same time as him. If he keeps crying then asking him to give me a turn usually does the trick. This one may not be practical out in public but it can be a fun solution at home.
More Than A Tantrum
If these strategies don’t work, it may be more than just a tantrum. If you’re little one is hurt or sick or needs something specific, you’ll want to address their needs to help soothe them. Luckily the cry for an actually need is generally different than a tantrum cry. Chances are at this point you’ve had quite a bit of experience telling your little one’s cries apart.
Share some of your terrible two stories below!