The “terrible twos!” Myth or reality? Shall I brace myself now, and savor every moment until then? Should I start counting my blessings? I’ve heard horror stories and seen countless tantrum videos posted online. What should I expect? These are all questions that I asked myself over and over leading up to my son’s second birthday. It’s funny, because on the outside, everyone always thinks I have it completely under control (I’m a master of perception hehe), but the truth of the matter is that I had major anxiety about the dreaded “terrible twos.” For me, it was more of a “what would it be like to experience this in public” kind of thing, but you know what, I have some breaking news to share with you. Wait for it…..wait for it!
The terrible twos are really not that bad at all, well at least in my own personal experience. Of course every child is different. Some better sleepers, some better eaters, some better two-year olds? Maybe. Don’t get me wrong, my son has definitely had his “Dennis the Menace” moments, but truthfully I feel pretty lucky that for the most part the terrible twos have really not been so terrible, and I wanted to write this post as a way to maybe ease some parental minds about it, or at least shed some light on the big picture. So, whether you are reading this for fun, or maybe because you are a newer parent as well, or maybe because you are experiencing a bad case of the terrible twos, below are some tips and tricks to help out with this very important toddler period.
1. Be patient.
As a parent, you really have to learn the virtue of patience. I have to say naturally both my husband and I are not very patient people, although I think he would agree that I have a little bit more patience than he does, but as a parent this is something you really have to embrace with a two-year-old. I say this because it’s at the age of two where toddlers become a lot more curious, and a lot more capable as well, and this may lead to some mischief if you know what I mean. They will test you during this age. They will see how much you will let them get away with. They will do things they know they aren’t suppose to do PERIOD! That being said, it’s expected, because duh, they are two years old! So, the most important thing as a parent is to just have some patience with them. I promise if you learn to have some patience and just take a chill pill, this period will seem a lot less stressful.
2. Master the art of distraction.
This is an important tip, one that I use myself quite frequently. There are going to be times where your two-year old just randomly starts acting up at the store, or won’t sit still in a restaurant, or doesn’t feel like having their diaper changed, etc. Instead of getting frustrated or mad, try distracting your little one. I do this all the time. For example, my son has never been good at having his diaper changed. He squirms and sometimes throws little fits. Even when he was an infant he wouldn’t hold still. So, when he was under one years old, I use to distract him by giving him a blanket to hold on to during the change, now that he’s two, I sing a song with him or remind him of a fun time he had (story time). Another example is when we are out to eat, sometimes he doesn’t feel like sitting in the high chair, and before he gets too upset, I’ll usually distract him with a snack or, I’ll show him something to look at there at the restaurant. It’s funny, because sometimes the most random or little thing will do the trick. Of course, there are many different ways to handle these moments. Sometimes you discipline, sometimes you have no choice but to pick them up, but try a little distraction and you may be surprised how it works out. If the distraction is good enough, they may completely forget that they were about to throw a tantrum in the first place!
3. A mini sponge.
At the age of two, children are basically little human sponges. Their personality is really coming through around this time, and they repeat everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING! So, you really have to watch what you say around them, or even what they hear in the background at home, for example with a movie that’s on. This is the time when they will repeat everything they hear, so as parents of course we just have to be mindful and aware of what they’re listening to, even if it is just a movie, the radio, or YouTube on in the background.
4. Prep them for doctor/dentist/ hair cuts…etc
Ok, so my son the first two years of his life did not do so good at doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, or even just a hair cut appointment. Basically, he would get scared and cry the “sad” cry, not the fussy or fake cry, but the actual sad one. I think the bad vibes came from all the shots during the first several appointments. Once he became more aware, he started associating any kind of appointment with shots. It wasn’t until he turned two that I tried a new strategy with him that turned out to be successful. Basically, about two days before his dentist appointment, I started talking to him about how he was going to the dentist. I showed him videos of kids having fun at the dentist on YouTube, and I even acted out what was going to happen. I went through the motions of explaining in detail to him that the nice dentist would come in the room with us, she would lay him down on the seat, then use an electric toothbrush to clean his teeth (sounds effects and everything haha!) I also told him that he would get a candy at the end as well. So, when we actually went to the dentist I was happy to see that the strategy worked because he was in much better spirits and didn’t cry at all. I used this same tactic for his next hair cut appointment, and everything went good as well. So, this is a great tip and strategy that I’m happy to pass on in case you find yourself in the same situation!
5. Teach them manners now.
This tip kind of goes hand-in-hand with the “like a sponge” point that I made earlier. At two years old they are so impressionable, and they are learning so much, so it’s really important to start teaching manners now so that way they learn at a young age and it continues to stick as they get a little bit older and go on to school. So even at home, where we spend the most time, I teach him “yes mam” “no thank you” “yes sir” “please,” etc. If you use these phrases everyday, they will hear you, and they will learn. I know it’s working as well, because my son constantly gets complimented on his manners, even from complete strangers. So, again start this early so it sticks!
6. Make them clean up their mess.
As a new mom, this has been the hardest part of the terrible twos for me to deal with. My son is definitely messy with his toys. I clean his play room perfectly, then thirty minutes later it’s a big mess again, probably because my son is looking for the one toy he can’t find! Can any moms out there relate? Anybody? So, I think it’s important to teach them to start picking their messes up. One tip is to try make it a game! Kids love games. Either way, two years old is a curious time, and a messy time! So, although it can be a challenge, my advice is to not freak out about the big messes, and to just try your best to teach your two-year old to help clean their messes up.
7. Introduce timeout.
Don’t be afraid to introduce timeout during the terrible twos. I know it can be hard to integrate initially, but it’s something that has to be done, and I think that every household and parent will have their own way of enforcing the timeout rule. I tried the “timeout chair” in the corner but unfortunately that did not work with my son. He would just not sit still. So, I have other ways of enforcing timeout, and I think again, you’ll have to just find out what works for your family. For me, when my son is acting up, I make sure to tell him that I will have to take away either his favorite toy or blanket if he doesn’t start behaving, or I do take it away to show him I mean business! This is effective for us. I also try really hard to explain to him why he is in timeout. I do this so that he can hopefully start understanding that bad behavior has consequences. At two-and-a-half years old, I think its working! Of course he still acts up, but he is more aware of not wanting to be in timeout.
8. Cherish these times.
They say the terrible twos are tough, but in my experience it’s really not that bad at all. So, this tip is to cherish this time with your little ones. Don’t let a moment pass you by. At six months they are so cute, but at two years old they are the cutest too! This is the age where they start talking in full sentences, comprehending what you are telling them, singing and dancing. It really is a fun age, so be sure to take a lot of pictures and soak in the memories.
So I’m curious, how has your experience been as a parent getting through the terrible twos? Or what other questions do you (new parent) have for me? I’d love to know please leave me a comment below. It was important for me to share this experience and what I’ve learned so far with you. Again, I’ve heard all kinds of dramatic stories from other parents, and trust me when I say I’ve had those moments too, but I don’t think it’s as bad as some might make it out to be. If there is anything you take away from this post, just know that if you are struggling during this age with your children, it’s totally normal, you are not alone, and you will get through it! It’s also important to cherish this age with your little ones as well, because one day they’ll be twenty and you will look back and miss when they were two awwwww! If you enjoyed this content don’t forget to subscribe to this blog. New post up every Monday. New YouTube Videos up every Wednesday, and for daily content you can follow me on Instagram at @gutierrezfamilysa