Has your sweet, adorable child suddenly morphed into an unrecognizable little monster? Instead of wide-eyed smiles and happy giggles, are you now witnessing:
- temper tantrums
- kicking and biting
- grabbing toys
- fighting with siblings
- every word is “No”
- total meltdowns ???
Welcome to the terrible 2s!
The reason for the terrible 2’s? Your toddler’s need for independence vs. lack of control
Lacking the language skills to express what they want and need at this stage, they get overwhelmed very easily, explains Mason Gomberg, MD, a pediatrician in our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, in a recent blog. The perfect recipe for multiple meltdowns! In fact, children who don’t express themselves well will have more temper tantrums.
6 ways to avoid, or even prevent, toddler tantrums
At Westchester Health, we’ve helped thousands of parents shepherd their 2-year-olds through the “terrible” years, and we’re ready to help you with yours, with information, advice and maybe most of all, a listening ear. Here are 6 tried-and-true, parent-tested tips to help you survive this very trying phase in your child’s development:
1) Make sure your child has enough to eat
Three meals a day aren’t always enough to satisfy a hungry toddler, especially a picky eater. Your growing child needs 1,000-1,200 calories a day, which translates into 3 meals and 1-2 snacks.
2) Keep your cool
No matter how bad a tantrum gets, try not to lose it yourself, too. Take a deep breath, leave the scene if necessary (and if possible), and regroup so you can calmly deal with the behavior.
3) Pay attention to naptime when scheduling outings and playdates
Try not to plan activities at times when you know your child is most likely to fall apart, usually near nap time or meal time.
4) Try to prevent a tantrum before it starts
Temper tantrums often happen when your child is hungry, tired, bored or feeling overwhelmed. When you sense an explosion building, quickly redirect: change the environment, give him/her a snack, sing a song, read a book or play a quiet game. When a full-blown temper tantrum does occur, walk away and let him/her come to you in a different room when he/she is done.
5) Give your toddler some control
Letting your 2-year-old have a say in some aspects of his/her life will work wonders in diffusing the “terrible 2s” attitude. Let your child choose what to wear or what snack have.
6) Teach your child healthy ways to vent anger
When your toddler wants to react to a frustrating situation by yelling and screaming, help him/her find an acceptable outlet for the anger instead, like running around outside, bouncing a ball or singing loudly. Just make sure the alternate behavior does not entail violence that can be acted out later on others, like punching a pillow or hitting a doll.
At the end of your rope with your toddler? Come see us.
If you’re finding it hard (or impossible!) dealing with your 2-year and would like some advice and guidance, or if you have questions about any aspects of your child’s health and well-being, please come in to see one of our pediatricians at Westchester Health. Together, we’ll figure out a way forward that works for everyone and helps relieve the stress of the toddler years.
To read Dr. Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.