Feb 10, 2011

Tips for the Terrible Twos

Callie entered her "terrible twos" at about the exact same week that we took Clara home from the hospital.  This could just be a coincidence, or just bad timing on our part (having two kids just under two), but I seriously thought we were in for it.  Could this tantrum-throwing, suddenly disobedient toddler be the new Callie?

Honestly, the first few weeks when Clara was born were pretty rough.  We had just celebrated Christmas (to a toddler this equates later bedtimes, lots of sugar, extra attention, and an overwhelming amount of new toys). She was turning two the next month.  Grandparents were staying at our house (and were a huge help, by the way). And to top it all off, she had a new sister that she didn't quite know what to think of.

My mom had some great advice for me on parenting a "terrible two"-year-old.  I guess she raised five "terrible two-year-olds" who are now adults, so she probably knows a thing or two about the subject.  :)  Hopefully these tips will help other new moms as well, who if they are anything like me don't have a clue as to how to deal with a tantrum-throwing toddler.

  • Let her feel independent.  I try to let her "help" me as often as I can.  She loves it, and loves to feel like a big girl that can do grown-up things.  She helps with Clara, helps me cook, even helps me clean the house.  
  • Give choices.  Giving two choices lets her "decide."  For instance, "Do you want to give mommy one kiss or two?"  She doesn't really have a choice, but feels like she does.  :)
  • Choose your battles. Sometimes you have to let little things slide (but not the important things).  For instance, Callie loves to walk instead of being put in the shopping cart.  Sometimes I will let her do what she wants, even though it's not my first choice, to avoid a battle of wills between us.
  • Give warnings.  If I suddenly say, "Callie, we're going to take a nap now," she most likely will throw a fit because she doesn't want to.  But, if I tell her "Callie, we're going to take a nap in five minutes," she will know that the time is coming.  This also works when she wants, let's say, a bite of my food.  I will tell her before it's her last bite so she doesn't freak out when it's "all gone."  
  • Praise.  We make sure to praise her when she does something good and try to really focus on the positive things she does.  I try to encourage her to make good decisions by giving her a lot of attention when she does do something right or when she obeys.  I'm sure this works with children of all ages.  
  • Be consistent.  Another piece of advice that is good to keep in mind when parenting kids of all ages.  I am finding this is much easier to say than it is to actually do it! 
  • Don't give her too much attention when she gets in trouble.  This may encourage negative attention-seeking behavior. 
  • Listen.  Make sure to listen to what she wants.  She's still learning how to communicate without whining, so sometimes when she starts to whine I'll tell her, "Callie let's just talk. Tell me what you want to do" and I will learn something that I would usually just ignore or scold.  

Thanks mom for the great advice!  I hope I can be as good of a mom as you were to us!  Callie definitely still has her moments and her days, but these tips have really helped us know how to deal with her.

She's really becoming a great big sister and a not-so-terrible two-year-old.  :)


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