If you were to ask any caregiver, teacher, parent, or family member about the “Terrible Two’s”, they are likely to shudder in fear, visualizing a supermarket scenario where a two year old is in full tantrum mode, lying on the floor screaming and kicking, or a toy store scenario where a disheveled parent is hopelessly trying to whisk their child away from the myriad of toys they are trying to grab on, and shushing their child who is screaming at the top of their lungs.
The Terrible Twos is defined as “a period in a child's social development (typically around the age of two years) which is associated with very defiant or unruly behaviour” according to the Oxford Dictionary.
But it need NOT be the case. It’s just a question of changing your perception and equipping yourself with a few tricks.
Ask yourself: what’s behind the anger?
When a child gets angry, their anger is likely to push your buttons too causing you to react immediately. One trick to avoid getting your anger button triggered is to ask yourself, what’s behind the anger? It could be hunger, sleepiness, tiredness, shame, embarrassment, jealousy, worry, or fear. The trick is to look beyond the anger and address the underlying feeling.
Get down to the child’s level
Another trick is to get down to the child’s level, look them in the eye, and remain calm while talking slowly to them. You can help yourself remain calm by focusing on your breathing for a few seconds beforehand. As soon as you start to talk slowly and in a calm manner, this is likely to evoke a surprise effect in the child who will try to stop shouting and screaming in order to hear what you are saying. Getting down to their level and establishing eye contact can also make the child feel more connected with you and understood.
Give the child a hug
A final trick is to give them a hug and tell them “ I love you” instead of telling them to stop shouting. When a two-year old feels angry, they might also feel scared by the overwhelming emotion taking ahold of them. With the feeling of anger growing inside of them, the increased heart rate, and the heat generated by the emotion, a two-year is likely to feel frightened by the anger taking control of them. When an adult shouts at them, they are likely to feel worse, shouting and crying even more. When you give them a hug instead, you give them the message that you are here for them, and that they can count on you no matter what. This can be very comforting and soothing for a two-year old who is only just learning the ropes of appropriate social behavior.
Your efforts and patience in this developmental stage will pave the way in turn for the child to learn to regulate their emotions and behaviors and assume responsibility for their actions as they grow older.
Mona Merhej Moussa
Artwork Fadwa Al Qasem
Hunna Blog, a peek into the pages of our notebooks and our minds. Not a literacy area rather a jungle of thoughts.