Taming the Terrible Twos (Part 1)

Jessica Stebbins, MS, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
IMT 1258
Discovery Institute, P.A.      Rockledge, FL
Serving Brevard County

      Children’s behavior can become quite challenging once they hit around two years old. This is such a common phenomenon that it is frequently referred to as the terrible twos. Although it can be a challenging time for parents, there are things that can be done to make this time a bit easier. Let’s first take a look at what is going on developmentally at this time. According to Erikson, the developmental stage of the toddler years is Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt. This means that toddlers are trying to learn what they can do and enjoy trying to do things on their own. This is why many parents of children this age begin to get tired of hearing their toddlers say “do it myself!” And if they are not allowed to try on their own, it is likely a tantrum will follow. Tantrums are also likely to occur when children do not feel like they are getting their way, which relates to this developmental stage because they want to make some of their own decisions.

      In addition, we say that babies cry because they cannot communicate in any other way. Toddlers are able to speak, but they still do not have the vocabulary or knowledge to effectively communicate their needs, wants, and feelings. Tantrums are merely another form of communicating. Some people say that tantrums are a child’s way of testing the parent or caregiver. This can be true, but not in the way that most people tend to think. Children are trying to learn boundaries and are testing those boundaries to see where they fall. Remember, you can teach your child appropriate boundaries in a positive way.

       In the future, I will discuss discipline techniques for the toddler years. If you are in the Brevard County area and looking for a marriage or family counselor, please give me a call.


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