If you're parenting a toddler, power struggles and bids for independence are part of your daily life. However, the terrible twos don't have to be so terrible if you know how to handle them right. By understanding your toddler's development and by helping them to understand themselves better, you'll find yourself with a better behaved child, and you'll actually have some sanity leftover when you put them to bed at night.
What actually causes tantrums?
Kids between the ages of 12 to 36 months experience explosive growth, both in the body and in the brain. They start to understand that they are an individual person, and they start to differentiate between things they want and things they need. They also, as they become aware that they have individual wants, learn that other people can be persuaded to do things differently-- including you.
As infants, children got what they needed by showing you with tears and different manifestations of discomfort. As toddlers, especially toddlers who don't have command of speech, these are still the easiest methods of communication. However, as toddlers experience more complex feelings, like jealousy, frustration, and resentment, they will not know how to properly express these in words. Large feelings promote a sense of loss of self-control or a loss of personal security-- kids no longer feel safe, leading to fear and anger, which can promote a melt-down.
It is your job as a parent to:
Tantrums are often the results of a child feeling insecure or disconnected from the parent, or they come because a child simply has not had his basic needs met. For example, a tantrum is more likely if a child has not eaten or needs sleep.
So, where do you start?
Believe it or not, you can actually reduce the amount of times you have to deal with tantrums. It takes attentive parenting, and it takes time, but you can do it. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1. Don't yell. If your child is yelling because you won't buy him candy, those tears are usually a cry for help. Help will not come in the form of a raised voice. Yelling will only increase the distance between you and your child, and fosters both fear and resentment. In time, you child will not be able to turn to you for the help he needs, because he needs to feel safe with you in order to express his emotions. One study showed that yelling confuses children, as they are not yet old enough to understand the many causes of adult frustrations. Shouting can eventually lead to emotional insecurity, stress, increased behavioral problems, and even psychological delays.
While you should stick to your guns and not indulge the poor behavior, it is better for the child for you to hold or stay with him until he has exhausted his emotions and then teach him. You can say things like: "It's hard when you really want something that you aren't able to have. That is so frustrating," or "Candy tastes really good, which is why you want it. But, candy is not very good for a growing body. Do you want to grow up tall and healthy, like Mom and Dad?" These conversations help a child to feel validated, and help him to understand that you are still listening to him as a person. He still has control over his own body, which will empower him to make good decisions later.
2. Use routines and transitions. Another way you can show respect for your child as an individual is to make plans and stick to them. Have breakfast and lunch at the same time each day. Do a bedtime routine. This helps promote feelings of security, and increases the trust that your child will have in you. When plans change, it's important to let them know. You may need to tell them multiple times in order to prepare them for a change. For example, if you are going out to eat with Grandma, you will say: "Normally, we eat lunch at home. But, today is special because Grandma is taking us to a restaurant to eat! We will leave right after nap time."
These types of transitions help children to anticipate what is coming next. They will be able to better roll with your schedule if you actually include them in the plans.
3. Let it go. When you can, just allow your toddler to make a mess and explore the world. You'll experience fewer power struggles if you reduce your own need for control in order to let your child have control instead. Also, tantrums will occur less often if there are daily opportunities for learning and play.
So, leave the cupboard open and allow your toddler to pull out all the pots and pans. Let them play with their food and make a mess with it. Allow them the opportunity to try and do things themselves, like brush their own teeth (before you brush them) or wash themselves in the bathtub. Maybe let them "fold" and choose their own clothes.
For more parenting tips, consider looking for groups of counselors in your area.
I used to be skeptical about chiropractic healing. However, that was before I tried it for myself. I was in an accident that did serious damage to my back. I followed all of the doctor’s recommendations, did my physical therapy, and still didn’t feel any better. That was when I finally decided to try going to my friend’s chiropractor. It was such a relief when I finally started to feel better thanks to the great chiropractic care I received. That’s when I decided to start researching chiropractic care and how it could be used to treat different conditions. This blog contains the results of that research. If you’re looking for a way to feel better, you too may benefit from chiropractic healing. These articles will help you learn how.