Dealing with children between ages 2 to 3 isn’t quite as easy as one would imagine. One minute, things are so rosy and the next, all hell is let loose and your toddler is screaming, whining and yelling at the top of her lungs because you won’t let her remove her clothes in public!
Raising toddlers is a roller coaster of emotions as there are happy days, while some other days are quite tough.
The “toddler-years” are a great time of rapid growth and development for these young humans as they experience noticeable improvement in every area of their lives. Along with this growth comes their increased need for independence and the tendency to display their choice -making abilities more visibly.
Indeed, it’s a period of self-discovery for these little humans who are learning more about themselves each day. This is the time when they build their basic communication skills and begin to express themselves.
For toddlers, learning to handle their emotions is a major feature of this growth period.
Many difficulties encountered by toddlers could be largely attributed to the different phases of rapid growth. Language development also contributes greatly towards their desire to not only be seen, but also heard.
As Claire Koop, an applied developmental psychology professor of Claremont Graduate University explains, “Toddlers are beginning to understand a lot more of the words they hear, yet their ability to produce language is so limited.”
Along with any toddler’s desire for self-expression comes the will to always push for what they want.
As the zero to three website reports it,
One noticeable fact remains that all toddlers can’t be the same and handling them requires great knowledge and a thorough understanding of their unique personality traits.
Here are some facts about toddlers and what parents can do to understand them better:
As a young mother with two kids of about 3 and 2 years respectively, throwing tantrums, pulling hairs and screaming are normal behaviours that my toddlers display on a regular basis.
While this got me worried initially, a little research highlighted specific reasons for toddler tantrums.
All of these reactions are perfectly normal and as Nadine Block, the founder for the Center for Effective Discipline in Columbus notes:
Temper tantrums are part of the toddler-growth process. At this point, they do not know how to control their feelings and still expect parents to understand and meet all their needs. Hence, their form of self-expression sometimes comes with frustration.
My two-year-old tries to express herself the best way she can, but won’t comprehend why I don’t want her to tear books that are meant to be read, or colour the walls of the house with a crayon!
The truth is, toddlers get frustrated easily, especially when they are not having things their way. For some of them, being unable to perfectly communicate their intention makes them more frustrated.
As a parent who has two young ones within almost the same age-range, I have become a referee and an umpire overnight. This is because I am constantly settling mini-disputes and hearing “It’s mine, not yours, give it to me.”
Everything is now a competition!
It’s easy to lose your temper when you have tried all you can to keep your toddler calm, but he/she won’t budge.
At some point, I dreaded going out with my kids because I felt that they would have one of their toddler melt-down episodes and I wouldn’t be able to control them in the glaring eyes of strangers!
The other day, I saw a toddler openly wailing and a confused mother who had reached her self-control limit and just didn’t know what else to do.
The terrible twos are a well known age-range for toddlers as this is a period where they experience rapid shifts in their moods and behaviour. What makes this period more notorious is the inability of toddlers to perfectly master how to deal with themselves and others when they hit this age.
While it’s easy for any parent to lose patience at this stage, the best reaction is to stay calm and explain as clearly as possible to your child why they should or shouldn’t do what they seek to do.
I know sometimes it’s hard for parents to understand why their toddler(s) just won’t cooperate with them and catch cues. However, we must understand that they do not set out intentionally to overreact.
It just comes with their age!
It is for the above reason that the family room website notes that:
Children always love to be around adults who understand them and whom they can relate with, especially when it concerns the simplest things.
It’s easier to take your toddlers out to fun places, but when you have to be their audience or co-participant, it becomes a different ball game. Playing with your kids is good for their overall development.
To this extent, research from the National Institute for Play, California reveals that unlike before when a lot of parents didn’t exactly find it easy to get down on the floor and play with their kids, recent years have shown a change in attitude. Now, contemporary parents are more open to spending quality time with their kids. In fact, they end up being playmates, coaches, teachers and parents all at once.
By playing with your toddlers, you are encouraging them to develop good motor skills and also stay active. Throwing, running, clapping, singing songs and general body movement are what toddlers enjoy doing.
The child development institute also adds that while engaging your child in regular playful activities fosters better parent-child relationship, it could also prove to be a stress-reliever for any over-worked parent.
As a mother, controlling screen time for toddlers is something I am handling seriously, especially with the pandemic which has made us spend more time at home. I also have to work too, hence I get them involved in as many activities as possible so they can equally experience personal and academic growth.
In doing this, I usually create a weekly schedule where we experiment new activities together and also improve on the old ones. I also have a fun box filled with different game materials to keep them busy.
There are busy days when we read, colour and do all sorts of activities. Other days, we learn new things and watch television.
A major observation here is that toddlers get attracted to new activities, but lose their attention span almost easily. So I let them take mini-breaks from time to time. Yet, the goal is to keep them as busy and engaged as much as possible.
Toddlers also like to display a sense of responsibility because they usually want to be kept in charge, so I give them little tasks to do.
The inquisitiveness of toddlers makes them question everything that happens around them. Not only do they question events, they also pay attention to the minutest details.
From eating to walking and talking, you are your child’s first teacher. They learn a lot from you. Through interactions and from what they see on the television, they form their unique identities.
They are keenly watching and learning. Their first pattern of learning is by copying whatever they see.
For this reason, it is good to set positive examples and do the right things as a parent. Your toddlers are watching!
As a parent, I am very careful with my words and everything I do because I am fully aware that every step is being watched by my curious toddlers!
Toddlers never get tired of being inquisitive. It is something that comes naturally to them.
Their curiosity is what allows them learn more about their surroundings while improving social interaction with others. Toddlers love to explore, ask questions and use the full extent of their imagination.
Many toddlers crave a sense of independence and the desire to be in control. Although this is not entirely possible, parents can simply help them do what they wish, albeit with strict supervision.
For example, my older daughter prefers to write by herself, even while I am still trying to teach her to master a particular word or letter. She simply reaches for the pen and mutters ' I can write it.”
Toddlers are usually passionate about self -discovery and seek to experiment with almost everything and anything. While learning new things, they want to air their opinion, exert their little authority and make their voices heard.
For me, one way I get them involved is by asking questions. For example, “would you like to do this…would you prefer to wear this dress? I hear you don’t want to eat your eggs..do you know it’s good for your body? Would you like to eat it now?
We have little conversations too and it gives me little ideas on how they actually feel about certain issues.
Listening and paying attention helps parents understand their toddlers better.
Toddlers aren’t trying to be difficult, they are simply attempting to display their understanding of the world and what they think it is. They are trying to figure out why certain things are the way they are.
As parents, we can only help them through these crucial moments of their lives by helping them through it.
It certainly won’t be a walk in the park, but it also won’t be a never-ending phase because it has an expiry date.
The process of bringing up a child is one which requires love, patience and care.
Breathe through this stage and enjoy it while it lasts because they grow so fast!
Be nice to your toddler, your future self with thank you. Children need love, care and respect as they make it through this stage.
Remember, you were once a toddler.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself too.