It happens to many a parent: One day you notice that your sweet, loving baby has morphed into a defiant, tantrum-prone child who’s moody for no reason and loves to say no. Don’t worry — this is a normal pattern in child development. Eager to explore the world, your child is testing his boundaries to see what you’ll allow him to get away with.
Here’s how to get through this challenging stage.
Why the twos can be terrible
Imagine that you’ve suddenly gone through a major developmental spurt that’s given you the ability to communicate, think, and even move like never before. It’s sort of like having superpowers — and naturally, you want to test them out to see how far they’ll get you. That’s what life can be like for your child during this stage. And when frustration occurs (perhaps brought on by the fact that you told him he cannot stay up past his bedtime), his mood may change, he may tell you no, or he may send a tantrum your way.
How to maintain perspective
The most important thing to remember during this phase is to not take it personally. Just because your child tried to bite you in a fit of rage doesn’t actually mean he loves you less. He’s just frustrated. A great way to help him cope with his negative feelings is to boost his confidence, which will actually help him feel more independent (and, consequently, less frustrated). Here’s how.
Let your child indulge her curiosity by allowing her to explore her world as much as possible in a safe way. If something’s not safe, tell her no. She’ll eventually come to learn what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Boost your child’s self-esteem by letting her know when she’s done a good job. If she plays nicely with her friend or completes a task you asked her to do (like changing into her pajamas), tell her how happy and proud you are.
Even though your child may be continuously reaching milestones, she might still have her bad days — don’t we all! Don’t let a tantrum or bad mood shake your resolve. Soon, she’ll grow out of it!