Navigating the ‘terrible twos’

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For many parents, the toddler years are filled with a mix of emotions. These range from adoration to frustration and irritation. The good news is that these are all totally normal feelings when you’re dealing with a growing little human whose emotions can bounce from laughing to screaming within seconds.

Imagine being in your child’s head and body. Life is a whirlwind of discoveries. During their first three years, children learn so much about themselves and their place in the world that they can often feel overwhelmed by big emotions that they don’t understand and can’t articulate.

The only way to cope with these emotions is through their own extreme reactions, which all too often result in screaming, kicking, biting and hitting their parents, siblings, friends or teachers.

Here are some tips to help your little one cope with their big emotions:

Stay calm

  • Try and stay level-headed when your toddler is in the middle of a meltdown. Don’t scream or react, which to their eyes is just imitating their behaviour. Instead, take a minute to gather your thoughts before handling the situation, which will also make your toddler feel like you are in control.
  • Get down to their level. Sit down next to them, hug them and ask them what they’re feeling.
  • By asking your child to verbalise the emotions they are experiencing, you are telling them that you want to help them feel better. Are they feeling sad, angry or happy?

Wait it out

  • Wait a few minutes for the storm to pass, and don’t approach your toddler as soon as they start screaming. Giving them a few minutes allows them to experience the emotion they’re feeling.

Reduce stress

  • Fatigue, hunger and over-stimulation are all things that might cause your toddler stress because they cannot regulate their own emotions.
  • If you reduce these in their lives, you can minimise temper tantrums.

Be consistent

  • Always approach temper tantrums in the same way or you will confuse your toddler.
  • Children like consistency and it helps them to know how you will react to their emotions.

Stay positive

Temper tantrums are a normal and natural part of growing up and kids grow out of them as soon as they’ve learnt how to cope with their emotions and environment.