Terrible two’s & three’s?!! HELP!!!

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Terrible two’s and three’s are actually part of the normal development cycle, and a very critical time in molding social behavior. At this time, a child starts to realize he or she is separate from you, and are trying to learn and find autonomy. This often comes with defiance, anger, and new “behavioral problems”. Where did my kind and quiet child go? Remember, they have transitioned from being inside to outside of you, but still have been at your complete dependence. Between two and three, as we encourage and praise them to walk and do things on their own, they start to recognize they are separate and have their own will, but are also still dependent. They also start to realize it is more fun to do whatever they want, and freedom is much more exciting.

Believe it or not these behavioral issues show that your child has a strong bond with you and the confidence to find his or her own self. They trust they can be who they are and you will still be there and love them. These behaviors are testing grounds for what they can and cannot do, often with feelings they are experiencing for the first time.

After going through this three times myself, I find saying, “NO” firmly and once, means NO, and not waffling. If they are misbehaving with a toy for example, simply say, “Stop or I will take it away”. If they do not stop, you do not say a word and take it away. No threats. No anger. No negotiation. When they cry, reassert the reason, “If you do “this”, I take it away”. This not only teaches consequences but it also puts the power and choice in the child’s hand. And, explaining why is critical in their understanding. Getting mad or taking it away without reason does not teach them cause and effect, or why. They need to learn boundaries and testing you is how they do it.

When it is hitting or physical danger I do time outs (they won’t sit long). If they get out, keep putting them back in without saying a word. I always explain why, “Hitting Sara is not ok. Sit here.” Set a stove timer for 1 min. I would make it less about the actual time, and instead not let them out until they were ready to say WHY they were in time out. “Why did Mommy put you in time out”? The first many times they will not want to admit it because they feel badly about what they did. They do not want to disappoint you or make you upset. But this step again teaches consequences and makes them take responsibility for hurting someone else. I would also make sure to tell them after they admitted what they did, to thank them for doing so, give them a big hug, and tell them I am proud of them and love them.

Know this phase, despite how challenging, is less about behaving badly then it is learning and experimenting with social and emotional boundaries. It certainly is one of the hardest times as a parent because it feels daunting and overwhelming, but it does pass and your sweet child is on the other side. The real challenge is ours, to be consistent, strong, understanding, and loving all at the same time. In the end it is just feelings, and they are trying to figure out what to do with them. © motherinsight.com like/share 🙂