The terrible twos are that stage that we have all heard about — and all dread. Two year old toddlers learning to explore their world and try to become a little bit independent are prone to tantrums, acting out, and general bad behavior. It can drive a new mom or dad to drink — but don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you survive the terrible twos!
1. Take a Break
This is when you’re most at risk for starting to lose your temper with your child. Don’t feel bad, but if you feel like you’re starting to lose your temper after telling your 2 year old not to reach for the hot stove for the thousandth time, take a few minutes and step away. Make sure your toddler is safe and step away for a couple minutes. Check your Facebook, do some deep breathing or a quick 5-minute meditation — whatever it takes to help you calm down — and then return to address the problem.
2. Stains Come Out
When you’ve got kids, messes happen. It’s tempting to freak out a little, especially if your little bundle of joy has dumped nail polish into your heirloom sofa or something similarly catastrophic. Don’t freak out. You can get stains out of just about anything with a little bit of patience and perseverance. Depending on the stain and the cleaning materials or solvents used, it might be a good idea to include your little one in the cleaning. It’s a good way to teach that actions have consequences — they made the mess, so they learn that making the mess means they have to clean it up.
3. Meal Plan and Prep
Cooking dinner with a toddler underfoot can be a nightmare — they’re either reaching for the hot stove top, pulling stuff down off the counter, or generally wreaking havoc while you’re trying to prepare a nutritious meal. There are two ways to make this part of your day a little easier — meal planning, or dedicating a couple of hours a week to meal prep.
Meal planning is easy — simply spend 15 minutes planning your meals out for the week. Do your grocery shopping based on those meals and you’ll never have to spend time wondering what you’re going to make for dinner.
Meal prep takes a little bit more effort but it makes the rest of your week much simpler. Spend a couple of hours prepping your meals for the week — you can assemble one pot or one pan meals ahead of time, freeze them and toss them into the oven when you’re ready to eat. Even things like eggs freeze very well and just take a minute or two in the microwave to reheat when you’re ready for breakfast.
4. Use Your Words
How you talk to your toddler can play a large part in how they act. The terrible twos is all about testing boundaries, but you still want to try to keep everything as positive as possible. Don’t focus on the negative — “We don’t hit!” or “No, don’t grab the stove!” Instead, redirect their behavior into something positive — “We use our hands to help,” or “Here, help me cook dinner.”
Distraction and redirection are your best weapons against the terrible twos — it helps them learn boundaries without resulting in a tantrum, especially when they’re this young. It doesn’t work forever — kids are smarter than we give them credit for and do eventually figure it out — but it’s a great tool while it still works.
5. Let Them Help
At this age, toddlers are learning a lot about the world around them by imitating the things that you’re doing. While we’re not expecting them to perfectly sweep the floors or load the dishwasher, getting your kids involved in whatever you’re doing is a great way to keep them occupied while letting them explore and learn more about their environment. Give them a kid sized toy broom to ‘help’ while you’re sweeping, or let them clear the napkins off the table while you’re cleaning up after dinner. Just make sure they’re kid sized tasks.
6. Choices Prevent Tantrums
The terrible twos is a lot about your toddler discovering the concept of independence — and a lot of tantrums come from that independence being ‘taken away’ by having decisions made for them by the adults in their lives. Start giving your little one choices when it comes to things like snacks or clothes. Don’t ask open ended questions like “What would you like for a snack?” — 2 year old generally don’t communicate very well so this could lead to frustration and tantrums. Instead, give them a couple of options to choose from — like apples or pretzels — and let them pick what they want.
It’s not exactly independence, but it allows your toddler to feel like they’re doing something for themselves.
When it comes down to it, the most important thing to remember about the terrible twos is that they don’t last forever. We’ve all been there at one time or another, and while it might feel like your patience is running out, just remember that they’ll only be 2 for a little while. Take the time to enjoy it.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
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