Taming the Terrible Twos

How to limit temper tantrums and other toddler mischief.

He was your smiling little son and heir, but when he turned two, he became a screaming monster. The “terrible twos”, when a child’s desire to assert independence clashes with your desire to lay down rules, can be a headache to deal with.

Here are tips to help manage your toddler’s newfound independent streak.

  • Offer a choice: Giving a child an alternative in a crisis will lessen his chances of a meltdown. For example, if a child won’t budge, give him the option of being carried or walking by himself.
  • Lead by example: A child mimics what you do, so if you blow up at your wife over the most trivial of things your offspring will do the same.
  • Establish solid routines:  If a child doesn’t know what’s going to happen for the day — when he’s going to eat or when he’ll be bathed — he will feel out of control and more likely to chuck a wobbly.
  • Don’t be a control freak:  Your child will learn to function in the world if he gets to make his own choices. Allow him autonomy in areas that won’t cause heartache, such as choosing the colour of the bib he’s going to wear.
  • Compliment: Give your young one a rap for doing something the right way — positive reinforcement will make good behaviour an ingrained habit.
  • Eat well: A diet high in sugar will put your child on a roller coaster of emotions as his blood sugar levels rise and plummet rapidly.

When your child has a tanty, turn it into a positive learning experience by following these pointers.

  • Enforce a penalty: Behaving badly should not go unpunished. Withholding a favourite toy will teach your child that doing the wrong thing has consequences.
  • Don’t give in: Your child might be sulking, but this is a grudge match, a battle of wills, and if you surrender, you’ll be rewarding his bad actions.
  • Remove toddler from public space: Having an audience will make an upset child perform more loudly — the idea is to reduce stimuli, and get him to a private area as quickly as possible.

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