Jessica Stebbins, MS, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Discovery Institute, P.A. Rockledge, FL
Serving Brevard County
Here are a few suggestions to help lessen the effects of the “terrible twos”. Please remember that there is no cure for the terrible twos, but by changing some of your actions, you may be able to help tame them and prevent them in the first place!
First and foremost, the best thing that you can do is learn about your child. Pay attention to what situations make your child throw a tantrum and you may be able to change your behaviors in that situation in order to make it easier for them to handle. For instance, if your toddler tends to throw a tantrum when you tell them it is time to go home from a play date, or when changing from one activity to another, your child may need more time and warnings that a change will be occurring soon. Or you may notice that tantrums are more likely to occur during certain times of day. In this case you may want to schedule activities that are less likely to induce a tantrum during those times.
Another important approach to preventing negative behaviors is to reinforce positive behaviors. For children this young, rewards should be immediate and small. When your child handles a situation in a positive way, give them attention and praise, or even a small sticker to wear. This will help them to feel good about themselves and their behaviors and will make it more likely they will behave in a similar fashion again in order to receive more positive attention.
Be careful not to misuse the reinforcement technique. Bribing your child may have the negative side effect of teaching them that the only reason they should behave is to get something out of you. Also, when you first start using reinforcement for positive behavior, you will need to reward good behavior more often. As you child gets the hang of this, you should make the rewards further apart (this is not necessary with praise as you should always provide positive words to your children).
One more installment of Taming the Terrible Twos will be coming so keep your eyes open for it! If you are in the Rockledge area and looking for a therapist, please give me a call.