6 Tips for Surviving the Terrible Twos - Baby Chick
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6 Tips for Surviving the Terrible Twos

The term "terrible twos," is named that for a reason. They're, undeniably, terrible. Here are 6 tips for surviving the terrible twos.

Published January 12, 2016

by Quinn Kelly

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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The term “terrible twos” is quite an apt description of the age at which your child goes from being a perfect little angel baby to a demon child in disguise. They may still look all sweet and innocent on the outside, but moms know…inside that precious little toddler, a storm is more than likely brewing. Woe to any who is near when they explode!

Surviving the Terrible Twos

Fortunately, all mamas must deal with this less-than-delightful stage of raising a baby. Which means you might need some advice on how to survive. And here is what I can offer you.

1. Remember, a 2-year-old is (Super Duper) Immature

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All joking aside, one of the most practical things you can do to cope with the meltdowns is to remind yourself that your toddler is two. And two is incredibly young no matter which way the cookie crumbles. And immature. Their tiny brains are still developing and have a LONG way to go. And part of their unreasonableness means they are actually on par with where their little development should be. They are developing a sense of self with preferences and likes. They don’t speak incredibly well yet or have the ability to think ahead. So go easy on them.

2. Stay Mature (and Calm)

So now that we’ve established they are 2, it’s time to remember you are not. And while dealing with their terrible twos meltdowns day after day may make you feel like you are losing your sanity, don’t let it keep you from remembering your age. Someone has to stay calm in the chaos. So step away if you need a breather, take some deep breaths, and focus on the fact that they are trying to get your help. They just aren’t asking in a good way. And seriously, if you are in a particularly bad period, schedule a sitter and do something for yourself. Sometimes a parent needs a little break to regain strength. And there is NO shame in that!

3. Pick your Battles (Don’t Add to Them)!

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Considering they are immature, remember, your 2-year-old is not trying to fight you. Sometimes parents get stuck trying to battle it out with a 2-year-old with no real ability to reason, and most of the time, the fight isn’t worth it. If your child asks for the orange cup and then immediately says they want the blue cup, if you have it in you, give them a blue cup. Sometimes we think our job is to force them to be rational, but they lack the ability. So something that doesn’t need to become a battle becomes one. And no one has time or energy for unnecessary battles!

4. Hold Them

One of my favorite ways to stop tantrum tears is to pick your child up and hold them in the middle of a tantrum. Sometimes they have forgotten what they are upset about; they just know they are escalated! And your ability to be calm and loving in their presence can help them stop crying and soothe more quickly. So the next time they are freaking out, bend down, reach your arms out, and say, “Can I hold you?” Then hold them until they are ready to let go. The perk of this is that it may even make you feel better!

5. Stay on Top of Their Sleep and Diet

We cannot control that we are dealing with an immature brain, but sleep and diet are two of the most important things we can control. If you usually are relatively relaxed about naptime and bedtime, this is the time to become stricter. Giving your toddler the most consistent routine should help them not have tantrums due to lack of sleep. And while some kids do not seem to be reactive to sugar or food dyes, others can be tremendously affected by what they eat. So one of the best things you can do to help yourself through the terrible twos is to make sure your child is not eating junk! Bad food and little sleep can unnecessarily add to bad behavior!

6. Study up on Some Well-Known Methods to Deal with their Tantrums

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It seems the average parent of a school-age child has heard of “Love and Logic” by Dr. Jim and Dr. Charles Faye for middle school kids, but it can also be an excellent method to try with toddlers. And while a 2-year-old may seem slightly young to employ logic, they can respond well to being given options, which is the premise of their book “Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years.”

Another book I love for the toddler phase is Dr. Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Toddler on the Block.” In it, Karp states that toddlers are like barbaric cavemen with raw emotions and limited communication. He suggests that for parents to help aid toddlers through their big emotions, they should communicate for them in a similar tone and level of emotion. His method allows toddlers to feel like their parents understand them, which is supposed to help them back out of their tantrums! See the video sample HERE. And while you may feel like an idiot while trying this method out, I have to say my 2-year-old loves it!

The bottom line is that this “terrible twos” phase will pass. Sooner than you think. Hang in there, mamas! You’ve got this!

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Quinn Kelly Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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Quinn is a mother of four, licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the “Renew You” Podcast, and author of “Raising Boys: A Christian Parenting Book.” Throughout the last decade,… Read more

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