First of all, thank you all so much for joining me on this adventure. When I watched shows about bloggers over the last few years, I never imagined that this would be me someday. But motherhood changes you. It changes your life, habits, priorities and so much more and it also shows you that you get through those challenging times the best, when women and especially mothers support one another. So here it is – my first ever blog post on my own website.
I am by far not perfect nor close to winning the best Mama award and I also accept that there are a million different ways of handling the upbringing of your kids. I just want to offer some helpful guidelines of how you can improve a quite stressful time for yourself, your husband and of course your child. I actually have to remind myself of these tips all the time because last year I felt that our family was stuck for a few months in a negative and stressful loop, which in the end is very bad for the parents as a couple and I would like to stay positive from now on.
I have seen within my family and with friends that for some families the terrible twos can hit you very hard and for others it will breeze past like it never existed (super unfair, I know)! Well I can tell you that our Paul has a very strong character and that the terrible twos have hit us and are still hitting us hard.
1) Pay close attention to your child
While this advice sounds quite obvious, we forget about it on a daily basis when we are busy with our lives, moods, phones etc. Tantrums happen mostly when your child is hungry, bored or tired. So organizing your day around his/her nap time can be crucial to avoiding major tantrums and the transformation of a little angel into a little monster. Have healthy snacks with you when you pick him/her up from nursery or when you are planning a daytrip outside.
Last year after a hard week with Paul, when I was quite desperate and down, I talked during a check-up for Mathilda to the paediatrician about Paul’s behaviour and she gave me a very obvious piece of advice. “When your husband comes home from work let him take Mathilda from you so that you can spend 15 mins one-on-one with Paul alone in his room. Tell him you love him and that he is a great boy and play whatever he likes.” While the one-on-one-time sounds like a great idea, it is of course not always easy to incorporate it into a rather hectic dinner time period, but if you find the time, this can definitely calm his/her temper a bit.
2.) Be strict & consistent
While every now and then I would love to bring Paul a surprise or chocolate cookie to nursery when I pick him up, I know it is a bad idea as the day after he will expect the same and this will cause frustration (and a major tantrum). He is happy with the carrots and pretzels I always prepare him, so sticking with consistency and not opting for surprises creates less tantrums and your child is then clear on what to expect. This plan of course goes down hill when your child sees his best friend being picked up and offered chocolate cookies. I remember this situation when I was heavily pregnant with Mathilda and Paul was super unhappy with the snacks I brought him. It ended with me crying in the nursery after for 20 mins I could not manage to get my own child dressed. #lol
Being strict and clear on rules goes hand in hand with consistency. Children during this age are testing your boundaries all the time. If you give in one time they will always try it again the next time and it creates frustration when they are suddenly not clear on the rules anymore. If your child throws a tantrum at the Haribo section in the supermarket and you give in because the situation is so super stressful he will try it again the next time when you pass the same shelves. So be strict and brave. At some point you will get out of the supermarket and you will be proud because you stood your ground and next time will go (most likely) smoother.
3.)Prepare your child before entering tricky situations
A good trick on how to avoid some major tantrums is to prepare your child about certain situations and changes of plan. For example, if you opted to let him/her watch a little cartoon or if he is doing a fun activity and you know you really have to get going in 10 mins, give him/her several heads-up. Tell him/her “in 5 min we have to leave” and repeat this every minute until it is time to go. You will see, that the tantrums will then only come 50% of the time.
4.) Don’t punish – Don’t reward
When your child is already throwing a major tantrum, I read several times that during this situation you can explain things to him/her all you want, but he will not be able to understand anything because during a major tantrum the part of the brain for reasoning is basically on shut-down and only the emotional part works. So hugging and comforting your child is all you can do. He/She is more lost and frustrated than you are and you should just make sure that he/she cannot hurt anyone or break something, because after the tantrum he will feel that Mama/Papa could not protect him/her from doing this. It is also crucial that during those super stressful times not to give into easy options (bonbons, chocolate, TV etc). Again, the kids are testing your boundaries. So do not reward, but also do not punish your child as those situations are also very tough for your child. When the tantrum is over, explain again what happened and what is right, but continue with your normal plan for the day.
5.) Limit Screen Time as much as possible.
For Families who do not have grandparents or other help close by (like us), life can get quite tough sometimes. Easy options like letting your child watch TV every now and then – simply to prepare dinner or to relax 10 mins – can slowly creep into your lives and suddenly the 10 mins become 20 mins and so on. It happened like this to us and in my opinion Paul was suddenly watching too much TV.
At this age, kids can still not really differentiate what is real and what is not and they start having nightmares, so even a cute lil’ baby cartoon is simply overstimulating. Last November, after the tough week I mentioned previously, we finally changed our habits and limited TV time (& sweets) strictly to the weekend and even then not in excess. The change in Paul’s behaviour was astonishing and we could really feel him becoming more relaxed, calmer and happier than before. He even repeated the new rules very often to us and was completely ok with them.
I have also heard from friends and in the media that child psychologists say TV should basically be banned for the little ones. If you can’t manage that, then limiting the time will definitely help.
6.) Stay cool
The last advice I can give you is to just relax. I know it can be hard at times, but when your kid is throwing a tantrum and your hubby or yourself are screaming at him/her because they are crazily misbehaving, believe me, you will make it worse and probably your better half and all other kids you might have will also start crying. Take a deep breath (think about the pleasures of parenthood #lol) and wait until the storm has passed. Also just try to work on the other 5 steps in the future to avoid these moments as much as possible, because the terrible twos might “only” last from about 18 months until 4 years. #yay
Good luck to all of you. We are in this together.
I send you warm greetings from Paris. Leave me a comment if you have been or are going through the same phase or if there is another topic which would really interest you.