How do you deal with the terrible twos

Sarah - posted on 05/19/2011 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I am really frustrated and need some advice. My daughter is 20 months old and seems to be in the terrible twos already, everything seems to be a huge struggle. How do you deal with these feelings of frustration and how do you get through this stage of life.

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Jacklyn - posted on 05/21/2011

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Hi Sarah,
My daughter, Lily is going to be 3 in October, so I definitely understand the frustration. My main resources are distraction, compromise, routine, and consistency. The easiest way to diffuse an attitude is distraction. My little girl would start to get frustrated or upset and I would move her to another room or suggest playing something else. At that age their coping methods aren't very developed and things can get overwhelming very quickly. Compromise is another biiiigggg thing. The child obviously will want to get his/her way all of the time, which (of course) is not only impossible, but unhealthy. So, we compromise. If she doesn't want to eat her meat at supper, she has to eat cheese instead. If she wants to wear the ridiculous dress shoes out then she has to let mommy pick out what to go with it and she has to change her clothes. She can brush her own hair IF she lets mommy finish it, etc. Another big thing is routine. I don;t mean doing the exact saame thing day in and day out forever, but to have meal times around the same time regularly. To set bath time(s) around the same times (like in the mornings after breakfast, or right before bed). Or things like Morning: wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat, play. Afternoon: lunch,nap, play. Night: Dinner, bath, family time, bed. It helps them if they know what to expect and they become more independent when they are ready to do whats next and they are eager to help with it. And finally consistency. When you stick to your rules and your expectations of them it lets them know that you won't give in or do things for them just because they cry or have a tantrum. My daughter knows that when I say no I mean it. She knows that there are compromises, but I am not going to just give in. She also knows I expect her to try and do things before I will do them for her. I try to encourage her to try to do things for herself before she asks me to help her. She has become a very persistent, clever, and independent little girl. She still has her moments of tantrums and fits, but if I keep her on track and don't let her get hungry or too sleepy, shes usually easier to get along with :). My biggest piece of advice though, would be to be patient and try to stay calm. It is sooo easy to get frustrated yourself and that makes the child more overwhelmed. Keep a calm voice and try to calm her down in a loving way no matter how horrible, embarrassing, or badly timed the fit is. I hope this helps and good luck with your sassy little girl.

Meagan - posted on 05/21/2011

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I cry.... lol jk

WHat worked with my daughter is setting up routines, like our going out routine, bath time routine, dinner routine, and allowing her to help make choices. "This shirt or this shirt?" type of things. Ultimately you choose the 2 things, but from there, give the option, and even if you don't give the option, ask questions. "Ok, so we are going bye byes, so what do we do first? Put on pants! Yay!" Also, during meltdowns, down it out and ignore it. Dont show any emotion on your face and turn your back to her, take a step away (make sure she's in a safe place though), and wait until it's over. Once it's over, turn around with a big smile and thank her for not having a tantrum anymore, type of thing. Pay attention to the good, ignore the bad (the not dangerous bad obviously. lol). Also, I stick my daughter in the corner for 2 minutes (1 minute per year of life, but at around that age I was doing 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds), and after the time out (however you do timeout) is over, before I let her out I have her tell me she's sorry, tell her why she was put in time out, and ask her if she's going to do it again. At first you have to tell her to say sorry and to say no or say yes, but eventually she'll catch on. If she threw something or spilled something and wouldn't clean it up (which is why she's in the corner), after she gets out, have her clean/pick it up and praise her for doing so. If it's something like standing on the table, then you can't really do much about that.

At this point, I can tell my daughter to do something, she says no, so I ask her if she wants to go in the corner, and a lot of the time she ends up doing what I ask of her. I still DO have to stick her in the corner, but the more I've done it, the less frequent it is, and now the threat of "ok, we're going in the corner" is enough to get her to do what I want. But, at first, it took a very, VERY long time and many many minutes spent in time out with her, before she finally start grasping that sucked, and that if she didn't listen, she would get stuck doing that.

Also, remove her from the situation, screaming and crying if you have to.

It's really really hard to deal with those feelings espeically if you have a little one where you have to sit in time out with them. Usually by that point you want to rip your hair out, and being near them isn't helping. I find that now that I dont ahve to stay with her, those 2 minutes are time for me to breath and relax. Before that, if you need a minute to yourself, there is nothing wrong with putting your child in a safe place, and taking a minute for yourself. Not longer than a minute, but for me, I stick my daughter in the play room, and walk down the hall, breathing and cursing to myself, and by the time I'm back (its not a long hall), I feel more prepared. Not completely, but more. She's safe fore that 30 seconds, and I'm a little bit more ready to deal with the situation.

If you have anyone who can take her from you for short stints of time, that really helps too, especially if they are living in the house with you. They go in one room with her, and you go in another until your calm, but if thats not possible, even having someone come over to help or drpping her off with grandparents works. The key is when you are about to explode to leave the situation until your calm. It hasnt happened often with me, but there have been a couple times where steam came out of my head, and I had someone else take my daughter for 30 minutes to an hour until I was calm and relaxed.

Christina - posted on 05/21/2011

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Hi Sarah
I know how you feel I had the same with my son. How i did it was to start introducing proper rules but ones he could easily understand. There were some i made since he was about 18 months such as, if he throws a toy that toy gets taken away, toys aren't allowed to left all over the floorI intoructed thses so early more for safety as i am partially sighted and didn't want to trip, fall and break his toys. As he's got older i've added things like at meal times if the firsts are not finished then doesn't get desert or anything till the next meal, if i would like him to do something i ask him twice nicely then tell him then if he doesn't then he goes to time out for not listening and doing as he is asked. after a couple of week of reenforcing these the behaviour improved.

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