I thought that maybe we had lucked out. Our two-year-old was one of the sweetest little toddlers that you had ever seen. He would always go with the flow and nothing ever upset him. He loved to snuggle, laugh, and just be around people. In my head, I was thinking that we had made it through what many parents consider to be the hardest time in parenting, the terrible twos.
It wasn’t until he was well in his twos that it hit, it started as one day he was upset over what we were eating for dinner, and then next, he was throwing the classic kicking on the floor screaming fit that you see in movies. It was the type of tantrum that I wanted to pick him up and take him out of our house while mouthing, “I’m sorry” to every patron in our house even though it was only my wife, my oldest son, and me.
I thought at the time that maybe it was just a fluke that maybe he was just upset over not getting to eat what he wanted or that he was just tired or hangry. But it didn’t stop, it continued day after day. It wasn’t just at dinner, it was getting him out to the car, having him take a bath, or turning off P.J. Masks. The reality of it was that it didn’t matter what we did, he threw a tantrum… kicking and screaming on the floor.
Terrible Twos are different from toddler to toddler
It was completely different from our oldest. We did luck out, either that or we had the patience to work through the terrible twos, but it was much different with our second. It could be the age gap of 6 years between the two kids and that he sees his oldest brother have more freedom to do more things like run down the street to play with his friends and we won’t let him do that. It could be that we let his brother stay up an hour later but there was something that was causing him to throw tantrums that at times had us questioning what we had gotten ourselves into and asking if we could give him back.
Looking back, I realize that there are a few things that I wish I had known heading into the terrible two phase of toddlerhood that would have made things much… MUCH easier, including giving me a much better outlook throughout the time frame.
Many of these will seem like normal life lessons, but when we are in the trenches of parenting we can sometimes forget those lessons that we have learned that got us here in the first place.
While patience is an attribute that is much needed throughout all phases of parenthood, as you start to handle a toddler who is realizing how difficult the world can be for a two-year-old, patience is key. Your toddler will test that patience as they throw kicking and screaming tantrums in places that will embarrass you; such as a restaurant, sporting event, church, in an airplane, or while you are road tripping it to see the in-laws for the holidays.
As your toddler throws their tantrums understand that in the moment, this too shall pass eventually. All forms of reasoning are thrown out the window as you remove your two-year old from whatever situation has caused their epic tantrum. Let them get angry and sad over whatever caused it… let them wear themselves out. Eventually, if you have the patience and self-control (hint at my next tip) your toddler will realize that they are not going to solve anything by kicking and screaming by calming down and becoming the sweet loving kid that you remember. They will either forget what had upset them originally or realize that they will not get their way by throwing tantrums.
As you apologize to everyone trying to eat a meal in peace, you are going to feel angry and upset with your two-year-old. You are going to want to squeeze or spank them. However, the ability to hold back and tap into your patience will serve you and your kid more in the long run than a quick spank on the bottom while you are out in public.
Learn from your Mistakes
While there are books published to help you through every corner of parenting, one of the things to understand from the very outset is that every child is different. One thing might work for one parent at the playground but it might not work for your child. Everyone responds to the world in a different way. Learn from what works and what doesn’t with your kids.
The thing to remember about the terrible twos is that this is just a phase… hopefully. I say that because one thing to remember is that the terrible twos can turn into the tyrannical threes. Eventually, though, your toddler will understand that by throwing fits, kicking and screaming, and crying hysterically will not get them what they want. You as the parent are going to have to stick to your guns in whatever form of punishment you have given to your child. If you don’t, your toddler will start to realize that by throwing tantrums, for long enough, will get them what they want.
Remember this is just a phase, eventually both you and your kid are going to make it out the other side and you will be able to laugh as you tell stories about the fits they threw as a toddler on their wedding day.
Sense of Humor
Your toddler is going to throw tantrums over some of the smallest of things, it could be that you didn’t buckle them into the seat the way they “think” they should be. It could be that the wrong song came on the radio, it could be that they want to walk to their room and are met with 6-7 stairs which imped on their journey to get their Paw Patrol car (true story). The ability to laugh at some of the situations is going to help you as the parent make it through the terrible twos.
Have a laugh, but at the same time don’t make your toddler feel like you are laughing at them. If you can smile and laugh on the inside. Then go to Facebook and post, “reason #135 my toddler is kicking and screaming,” like I have seen many friends going through the terrible two posts online.
Taking Time Off
Taking time off is key to any phase of parenting. But more so during the terrible twos when you can be at your wit’s end on most days. On most days, it is all about surviving until you can lay your head down on your pillow at night to try and catch some much-needed sleep before you wake up to tackle the next day. It could be as simple as your partner and you giving each other a signal that you need to take an hour or so to just get away. It could be that you are and your partner take a weekend away so that you can both decompress from the situation and spend time together, taking time off and away from the terrible twos can help you with your patience, self-control, and perseverance. Taking just a moment to yourself is not selfish, it’s good parenting. It helps reset yourself so that you can take on whatever challenge is to come as a parent.