The Terrible Twos: a phrase that sends a chill up the spine of every parent.
If you haven’t been through this phase yet, then brace yourself for what it will bring. If you’ve been through it then you may shudder as you remember just how hard it was.
There’s no denying that the terrible twos can be testing times but they are also a good thing too. Don’t believe us? Have a read on…
Pushing boundaries helps them learn
Tantrums, whining, tears and testing boundaries are all signs of a healthy developing child.
By pushing the boundaries your toddler is finding out what he can and can’t do and learning how to make his way in the world.
In Denmark they don’t call this stage the ‘Terrible Twos’. Instead they call it The Boundary Stage. For the Danes pushing boundaries is seen as a normal and welcomed part of a child’s development and not terrible at all.
That’s not to say that Danish parents are permissive and weak. They set clear boundaries and guidelines that children are expected to follow but not viewing this stage as terrible makes a big difference to the way they see and react to toddler behaviour.
The Danish Way website explains more:
(Danish parents) are very responsive to their children’s questions about the rules. They don’t immediately offer them an ultimatum if they don’t follow them, but rather try harder to help them understand why they should. This takes practice, but you absolutely can get better at it. Even without words you can make children understand reasons for rules.
Trying new things helps their adventurous side
It’s possible to turn the terrible twos into the terrific twos if you spend a little time understanding what your toddler is feeling at this stage.
They are just discovering a whole new world and, being curious little beings, they want to stride out there. They want to touch, smell, taste and charge through every inch of it.
This adventurous spirit can stand them in good stead as they make their way through life.
Of course, as a parent, it’s your job to keep them safe and guide them through this new world they are discovering. And it can be tough to be told ‘no’.
But seeing the world through your toddler’s eyes can help you understand why they react in this way and help you feel more patient when they do.
Jana Murphy , author of The Secret Lives of Toddlers, believes we should embrace our toddler’s adventurous spirit, saying:
There’s a fine line between shielding your toddler from danger and frustration, and smothering him. Unless there’s an immediate danger, let your child climb the stairs, pick up the big rock, step in the puddle, and let him try a little longer to put together the puzzle himself. He needs a chance to realize his limitations, his strengths, and his ability to make things happen on his own.
When your toddler is having his next tantrum, it can help tremendously to remind yourself that this is a completely normal and understandable reaction to a setback.
If you can stay calm and consistently remind your child of the boundaries and why they are there, you are more likely to get through this stage with your sanity intact. And remember things will get easier.
During the Terrible Twos your child is developing their own personality
It’s in the toddler years that your child really begins to show you their unique personality and the person they are to become. Your baby is developing into a tiny person who has thoughts, opinions and a will of their own.
They might deal with any frustration in a dramatic way and find it hard to cope with any setbacks, but this will pass. The tantrums are just a part of this stage.
If you can focus instead on all the wonderful moments when you see your child’s personality emerging then it’s actually one of the most magical stages of childhood.
“I can do it by my own” can give you useful little helpers
One of the defining characteristics of toddlers at this stage is their insistence and will to ‘do it by my own’. They crave independence and want to be able to do tasks that they previously couldn’t complete.
It can be frustrating if your child’s insistence to put on their own shoes makes you late for the school run. If you channel it the right way though, this new found desire to do tasks by themselves can really help you out.
Toddlers love helping out with daily jobs. Make the most of it by asking them to sort socks, to fetch nappies for the baby or even to feed the dog. If you allow for a little patience and a bit of mess or disorder, then you can find you have a happy little helper by your side in the toddler years.
This stage helps you grow as a parent
If you can survive the terrible twos then you’re well armed to deal with a threenager (all the sass of a teenager but just a little more pint sized) and every tricky stage that comes ahead.
Dealing with toddler tantrums and tears teaches you all sorts of valuable parenting skills. You learn not to sweat the small stuff, to choose your battles and to take two deep breaths before you react to any bewildering behaviour your child throws at you.
It might feel wearing at the time but as you learn how to deal with the terrible twos you’re building many more useful parenting skills into your armoury.
The terrible twos can be testing times but if you see the tears and tantrums as a normal part of your child’s development, then it can make it much easier to deal with.
Calmly set clear boundaries and their frustrations will begin to ease. Even on the most tiring days when everything seems to go wrong, there are always magical moments with toddlers.
Whether it’s a bedtime snuggle or a big squishy hug that they give you out of nowhere, these amazing moments are everywhere.
They make us remember that despite all their bravado and independence, that you’re still their whole world.