I’ve seen 4323493 memes about how 3 is worse than 2, 4 is worse than 3 and so on and so forth. The good news? At 2 1/2, I can confidently say that Liam has finally calmed down after the height of his “Terrible Twos.” Does he still have his moments? Absolutely! However, he finally understands what it means to listen and follow directions. The “Terrible Twos” has been such a learning period for Liam, my husband and myself. I had no idea how much this stage would affect me, both on a physical and an emotional level. Here, five pearls of wisdom I wish I’d known a year ago.
Tip #1: Every child is different—and that’s OK
Liam started throwing tantrums around 15 months, with months 18 to about 24 being the absolute worst. I’ve had more than a dozen occasions where I had to carry Liam out of a store/restaurant/someone’s else house “surfboard-style.” I continually asked myself why other moms didn’t have to carry out their toddlers in the same way. It took me a long time to understand that every child is different, which, in turn, means that their tantrums are different as well. One thing is for sure: Liam is smart (not tooting my own horn, but he is very self-sufficient and eager to learn) and all he wants to do is explore his surroundings. Once I started to recognize those qualities, I focused on allowing him to do his thing as much as possible.
Tip #2: Every parent disciplines differently—and that’s OK
Similarly, discipline is different in every household, and what works with one kid might not work on another. At first, I looked to books, YouTube videos, other parents, etc. for guidance, but ultimately I found the most success when I followed my instincts; I know my kid and I know how he processes information. In our household, we say no, we take things away and yes, once in a while, we give Liam a pat on the bottom. Or, I’ll put Liam in his crib and close the door if his tantrum is out of control. Within minutes, he says, “Sorry, Mama” and immediately changes his tune. Don’t agree with our methods? That’s fine! My husband and I know what works with our family and we have zero say in what you do with yours.
Tip #3: Pick and choose your battles
You can’t control a toddler. End of story. After reading the book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Discovers The Art of French Parenting, I finally understood what it meant to pick and choose your battles. In France, they give children their space to be themselves and explore, while still setting a few important boundaries. These days, I don’t hover over my son, whether we’re at the park, in the house or playing outside. He’s going to fall, he’s going to eat crumbs off the floor, but as long as he isn’t getting hurt or hurting someone else, I’ve committed to letting him be his own person. And honestly, it’s paid off big time! Does he still get mad when I say no? Sure, but his outbursts have drastically decreased over the past few months.
Tip #4: Don’t take things personally
I am totally guilty of taking things personally sometimes. At first, I second-guessed everything I was doing, asking myself if X, Y or Z was the cause of Liam’s outbursts. Now I know that toddlers at his age are not yet capable of regulating their emotions. A simple “no” can easily escalate into WWIII–that’s just how they operate, especially when they have limited communication skills. Rather than say, “Hey, I wanted to watch “Baby Shark” for the 25th time in a row,” they simply wail their little brains out. No one gets mad at a bull for chasing a bullfighter—it’s simply their natural response. The same goes for toddlers at this stage in life.
Tip #5: Avoid changing your routine to cater to your toddler’s behavior
I often struggled between whether or not I should take my son out of the house (he hates to be indoors all day) in order to avoid a public meltdown. Yes, staying home is definitely easier, but it doesn’t make anything better. In fact, if you cater to their behavior, toddlers will simply assume that they can get away with anything. As much as it sucks, you need to take your kiddo out in order to properly teach them how to act in public. Staying at home all the time will not only leave your toddler cranky, but you will also start to feel isolated from the rest of the world.
Tip #6: People will judge—forget them!
I often felt embarrassed or even anxious about going out in public because of how other people might react. (If you’ve ever gotten a dirty look while your toddler was in the midst of the tantrum, then you know what I’m talking about! If you haven’t, then consider yourself lucky!) Let’s face it: Moms are constantly judged for every choice they make–it’s the way the world operates. However, I do absolutely believe in two things: 1) Addressing the unnecessary commentary and 2) Doing everything in your power to avoid judging other moms at any time—you never know what kind of day they’re having. Instead, concentrate on staying in your own lane, keeping your kid safe and making sure that your child grows up to be a respectful, kind and caring adult. In the meantime, if you are in the midst of the “Terrible Twos,” take a breath, carve out a few hours (or a whole day) to yourself and pour yourself a glass of wine—you totally deserve it!
Did you experience the “Terrible Twos?” How did you cope? Share below! XO