Monday, March 11, 2013

One Tip That Can Help You Survive the Terrible Two's

Just say YES!

Okay, not really, but sort of.

I've learned to let my two year old test her limitations and grow from them. This means she often wants to take charge and do things on her own. With my oldest, I'd step in and do it all for him. Little did I know this was actually making things worse. The terrible twos were truly a disaster fueled by tantrums and tears with my firstborn. See, I imagined he couldn't do what he wanted, so there was no use in letting him try or even pretending that he did in fact complete a task.

Developing toddlers want to feel powerful and in control which manifests in so many power struggles if we allow it to. There are many times when we can't necessarily say yes to a tantruming toddler, but when we can, we should. For instance, my daughter has this thing about having to unlock the car door. She can't quite do it yet, but every morning she thinks she does. I add that 30 second transaction to my morning and role play with her instead of experiencing the screaming and crying because mommy didn't let her open the door alone!

For my two year old, her list of must-do-alone tasks sometimes feels never-ending....

*push the grocery cart
*cook dinner on the stove (not kidding)
*drive the car (still, not kidding)
*put on a dress at bedtime
*etc., etc., etc.

So my daughter pushes a mini-grocery store cart when we're out shopping, "cooks" (away from the stove), sits on my lap to "drive," is often fed finger foods to hand-feed and gets to dress up in her princess dress over pajamas at bedtime! She's doing what she wants and what works for mom and dad. We are saying YES (when possible) while keeping the situation safe and reasonable. 

Then there are moments when parents must say no and though it may not be pretty it's necessary. So tantrums and episodes will occur. My two year old has her moments, but letting her test her independence has really relieved some of this so-called terrible twos stuff. We do our best and try to create a WIN-WIN for everyone's sanity and sake!

Share your tips too - we can use all the tips we can get!


  1. Question, now I don't have kids, but will someday. I like your advice here, but I would be so afraid that I'm raising a spoiled kid. Maybe even encouraging tantrums in the situations where I would have to say no. How do you walk that fine line of an independent child vs a child who expects things to go their way all the time?

    1. Great question! I've noticed that allowing my two year old to test her independence and limits creates less tantrum situations aka "spoiled behaviors." But like you mentioned, it's a fine line for sure. I just do my very best to understand my kids' opinions and guide them with healthy boundaries and so I say yes when it's a win-win for all.

      Then there are those times when I have to say no. I've had to plenty of those too and I'm okay with that. Besides, a healthy combination of yes and no is what likely creates independent and self-confident children who learn right and wrong. Or at least I sure do HOPE SO!

      Thanks for your question Mercy Elaine!

  2. Oh the terrible daughter has a bad case if them! I have learned to ignore the crying and tantrums...once I started doing that she would come back to me and ask for whatever she wanted nicely or do what I asked first to get what she wants. I kind of make her work for what she wants. I got that advice from a psychologist at a behavior management workshop. but believe me she still gives me a healthy daily dose of tantrums lol and like u mentioned u definitely have to pick your battles, power struggles only make things worse and will make you go crazy haha...great post!

    1. Hey Jackie! We are in the thick of the terrible 2's in our house. When Louie starts to cry (after I post a #toddlerproblem instagram pic!) I ask her to go to her room and when she is done crying she can come out. There are times when she doesn't even make it to her room before she stops crying and walks back to us. I will ask her if she is done crying and she says yes. So far this seems to be working! I agree though, by ignoring the tantrum you child will eventually figure out that they are not effective.

  3. I love this! It is so true! I've definitely been doing this with my son. If its safe and reasonable then I see no problem. At first I wouldn't let him put on his own shoes, get into the car by himself, buckle his own seatbelt etc. because 1. He was unable to 2. He would get frustrated and 3. I was usually late (everywhere) now it is working out great, I realized he won't learn if I don't let him try. Like you said I just worked it into my schedule and now it literally takes 30 seconds for him to get into the carseat and buckle up (I always double check it).
    Now I use this great big boy independence to my advantage when he refuses to do something I want him to do..
    "Are you going to wash your hands by yourself or do you need mama to help you?"
    "Are you going to feed yourself or do you need mama to help you?"
    My favorite is...
    "Are you going to sleep with mom and dad or by yourself in your big boy bed?!"
    It works like a charm! He loves that I give him the option of doing it on his own! And I love that it gets him to do it without the tears!

    1. Thanks for the comment Esme! I love this advice from Irene too. In my mind I have always called it "picking my battles". Just like you said, if it is safe and reasonable they why battle over it!


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