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Understanding the Terrible Twos

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As any parent can attest, the terrible twos is real and can test anyone’s patience and parenting skills. While most parents won’t consider this good news, child experts say the occasional tantrums and acts of defiance isn’t the sole modus operandi of 2-year-olds. In fact, tantrums and outbursts can begin as early as a child’s first birthday and continue through his third birthday. Understanding the terrible twos and how to act when a tantrum begins can help a parent make the best discipline decisions when it comes to handling their child’s outbursts.

Communication Is the Key

By 2 years of age, your child is completely mobile and beginning to develop the desire to explore and learn and to be independent. However, a child’s verbal skills are not yet sufficiently developed at this age to allow them to fully express their wants, desires and frustrations. It’s important for parents to understand that their children don’t bite or scream or act badly on purpose. Imagine the frustration of wanting to communicate with your parents, friends or someone else but not having the vocabulary yet to do so. That’s often why 2-year-olds turn to tantrums, biting and acts of defiance. They want you to know they are frustrated.

Don’t Make Matters Worse

Experts say it is important for parents to be calm and allow their child to express her emotion and finish the outburst, if the location makes that possible. Interrupting an outburst usually just makes a child even angrier. Instead, you should become as calm as the child is out of control. Do not argue or become upset, and no matter what type of face your child is making, do not laugh. Wait until the child has calmed down and assume a positive tone. Ask her to express her feelings using words, like the big girl she is.

Public Tantrums

Obviously, you can’t just let a tantrum play out in public. That can be embarrassing to the child and can interrupt others. Instead, remove your child from the situation – whether it is a shopping mall, karate practice or the playground. The car or a bathroom is a good place where your child can cool off. If your child knows the behavior won’t be tolerated and they will be removed to another location, that could lead to fewer and less explosive outbursts. Always talk to a child after a tantrum, showing that you are not upset and are concerned about why the child was so upset.

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