‘Terrible twos’ is frequently used to describe toddler tantrums, because it really is tricky attempting to reason with an emotional two-year-old. The editor Annie Ridout shares her own experience of it…
(This was originally published in January 2016)
My child’s very advanced I tell people; she’s only 19-months-old and she’s firmly enmeshed in the terrible twos. She has back-to-back tantrums most mornings. And some afternoons. And most evenings before bed.
It’s always a huge relief when a friend with a similar-aged child visits and the two of them tantrum together, as I realise that it’s totally normal. It’s their own, unique way of communicating with us. But it really does tire me out some days.
Often, after a particularly difficult period, I realise that Joni’s on the brink of illness or teething – or remember that something has upset her routine (like a change in childcare) and I feel hugely guilty that I got annoyed. But until that realisation, I just feel fairly hopeless.
For those who aren’t yet parents, who have angels for children or who’ve forgotten what it can be like, I’ll describe an average morning during a ‘bad’ phase…
Joni is standing up in her cot and frowning when I go in to her room. I pull up the blind, enquire after her cuddly toys (‘doggun’ – a dog, ‘bear’ – a bear) and make a series of jokes in an attempt to loosen that frown.
I fail and instead, it seems, wind her up something rotten. “Would you like to get out?” I ask, tentatively. “Nor.” She says loudly then bellyflops onto the mattress, arms outstretched, and lies still, just gazing at the wall. I lean down to lift her out and she screams in protest. So I stand back. She screams again because i’ve left her.
Eventually I get her out, change her nappy while she kicks me in the stomach repeatedly and manage to – somehow – get her dressed. She doesn’t want a piggyback downstairs, nor does she want to hold my hand – but she doesn’t want to walk down alone. There is no solution, so we slowly negotiate the various options until she caves in to one of them.
Downstairs, I pull my hair back and knot it into a bun so that I can make Joni breakfast. Only, she has decided that she likes my hair down so screams until I lift her up to within reaching distance of said bun; she then tugs at it until it loosens and falls down my back. It itches my neck – but I leave it loose: anything to avoid her wrath.
She struggles as I lift her into her highchair, eats some of her porridge, throws large lumps on the floor – looking at me, intently, to gauge my reaction. I try not to react. I don’t really care – I’m used to cleaning her mess – but then she throws the entire bowl on the floor, it lands upside down, and I feel a little peeved.
After clearing up, I let her play for a while then realise that some fresh air might be in order. She puts her wellies on herself – on the wrong feet – allows me to put her coat on and lift her into the buggun (buggy) and I can see the excitement in her eyes as I open the front door.
Outside, she grasps the bars on either side of the seat with her little hands and eagerly scours the road for cats, dogs, squirrels, foxes, brrm brrms, the moon, or any other animal/object/part of nature that she knows. She doesn’t tantrum for quite a while. Not until she suddenly feels overcome with insatiable hunger and I realise that I forgot to pack a snack.
Rather than interview an ‘expert’ on the matter, I thought I’d ask the real experts (ie. other parents) for your tantrum solutions. If you have kids, how do/did you deal with tantrums? Do you have any tricks? And, most importantly, how long did it last?? Please leave your answers in the comment section below.