My sweet son will be 3 in April. To say we have been hit with the terrible twos is an understatement. In fact, the terrible twos began around 19 months - the tantrums, the "no!," the whole kit and caboodle. My fear is that he will continue with this pattern and become a "threenager" as well. Will my son outgrow this phase of always having to be right? Of saying the sky is purple, just because I said it was blue? Will it ever end?
If you're in the same boat, here is my list on helpful parenting "tricks" for young children.
I am, by no means, a parenting expert. Sure, I am an expert at parenting my children, simply because I do it day in and day out. I can "diagnose" my child as a terrible-two, a threenager, or even spirited. I am simply writing from my own experience and sharing with you what works for me.
1. Time Reminders
It is so important to give kiddos a warning before changing activities, even if they are too young to truly grasp the concept of time. Kids soon realize that "three minutes" means it's almost time to clean up. We usually give a five minute and a two minute warning. Kid tends to get "lost" in his activities. Without reminders, he feels jolted from one thing to the next. A quick reminder allows him to break away from what he was doing, but also gives him enough time to continue and finish.
2. The Plan or "The Ked-ule" (because a two-year-old cannot say schedule)
I began to notice that Kid was having many-a-meltdown when changing activities, especially after a long day at daycare. I have always used the trusted method of giving warnings: "five more minutes to play," or "we're going to have dinner in three minutes." Those were helpful. But there were still plenty of meltdowns.
Our new normal is to devise a plan in the car on the way home from daycare. We give a very vague schedule, or plan, so Kid is prepared with what is coming. A sample plan is this: get home, play, eat dinner, gymnastics, home, books, brush teeth, bed. Throughout the night, we remind Kid of the plan, and ask him to help us remember it. Having him repeat the plan provides him with some ownership over the events of the evening. I continue to use time reminders with the schedule, letting him know that there are five minutes left to read books, then its time to brush teeth.
Is this method fool proof? No. It's not. Do we still have meltdowns? We sure do. But they have become fewer and farther between since we started using a schedule.
3. Remember Your Child's Age
Be sure to keep in mind the age of your child. I know, I know. This sounds silly. But all too often I see parents schlepping their 2 year old on far to many errands. It's no surprise that said two year old is crabby after running into three different stores. The poor kiddo is 2! He needs time to run and play more than anything else.
It sounds like I'm lecturing. I'm not. I am very guilty of bringing my kiddo on far too many errands. The shopping needs to get done, after all. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to bring the toddler with for any errands. But that isn't the case. When I do have to bring him with, I try my best to be as fast as possible. I also bring things for him to do. We have a notepad and pen that he only gets to use while running errands. This keeps it new and exciting so he will stay interested.
4. Be Consistent
This one doesn't really need an explanation, If you don't want your child to yell at you, don't let him get away with it. Ever. Do not hesitate to toss your kiddo into a time out at your sister's house, the library, the grocery store, anywhere. I truly believe that, if they get away with it once, they will try to get away with it again, and again, and again.
Consistency is key.
What is your tried and true method of dealing with the "terrible twos" or a "threenager?"