When children are between 2 and 3 years old, they become more curious about the world around them and also begin to develop strong feelings of independence. However, when they are unable to perform the task as planned or an adult does it for them, they get really upset and may have a tantrum.
This phase, called the “terrible twos and threes”, is said to occur because the prefrontal cortex of their brain has not been fully developed yet.
Overcoming the “terrible twos and threes” is difficult for parents.
However, it is a great experience for children and helps them learn how to control their feelings. It is important for grown-ups to learn how to better handle the “terrible twos and threes”.
In this article, we will introduce some ways to better handle this phase in your child’s life.
Tips for handling the “terrible twos and threes”
Start by helping your child calm down
When your child is in the middle of a tantrum, it is difficult for them to listen to what you are saying.
So, parents should start by trying to help their child calm down. Moving to a quiet environment with little distraction is often effective.
Tune in to your child’s feelings
Scolding your child will not work during the “terrible twos and threes” phase.
Instead, parents should make comments like the following and try to relate to what their child is feeling: “you wanted to ….”, “you are upset about ….”, etc. This will help your child understand that you care about his/her feelings and will make it easier for him/her to listen to what you have to say.
Accept as many of your child’s assertions as possible
As long as your child is not asking to do something dangerous, it is a good idea to allow him/her to do what she requests as much as possible.
You may think that it is a waste of time to let them do something you know they will be unable to accomplish. However, letting them fail is more effective as a learning tool than trying to explain to them in words that they will not be able to do it.
It is important that parents limit the use of the word “No” and let their children challenge themselves whenever time permits.
Encourage them to change their mind
When you cannot allow your child to do as she/he wants, it is a good idea to try to suggest another task they can do instead and help them gain interest in the new task.
Parents can make comments like “it is a shame but let’s go and have snack at home instead”.
These comments will help them see that something fun is waiting for them and may motivate them to go along with the new plans.
Allow them to be selfish once in a while
During the “terrible twos and threes” phase, many children don’t do things they can usually do or things that they know their parent will not like on purpose. It is impossible to do everything at your child’s pace or follow all his/her wishes but allowing him/her to be selfish sometimes will often help your child think positively. Making comments like, “Mom will help you this time and you can try on your own next time” or “Let’s try hard together” will make children feel that they are being supported and make them more motivated to try things on their own. Maintain a firm attitude toward undesirable behavior
When children continue to perform undesirable behavior, it is important for adults to be firm and make them understand that this type of behavior is not acceptable. For example, if children are playing with their food, parents should threaten to take the food away from them if they don’t eat it.
If children want to continue eating then make sure they promise not to play with their food anymore.
All children go through the phase and develop into young adults.
Although it is hard for parents and teachers to handle, this phase is an important part of children’s development. Adults should try as much as possible to avoid getting angry and frustrated and tune in to their child’s feelings during this phase.
Stepping back and sending your child to classes will help parents lessen their frustration and survive the “terrible twos and threes” phase.