Disciplining A Two Year Old
Two years old could be described as both terrific and terrible.
Two is fantastic while at the same time infuriating.
Our little dependent mini human has suddenly become very particular, very opinionated, and a self diagnosed expert on all things regarding, well, everything-especially themselves.
We have 3 children and they all have seemed to have a running head start into this “terrible two’s” season. We’ve experienced what we describe to others as a waspish 1.5 year old.
Thankfully we’ve learned a few key disciplinary practices that continue to to help us navigate our way through this sometimes tumultuous season of shaping these little humans.
And that’s what we have to remember right? The end goal? We want to raise and equip kind, enjoyable, well adjusted grown adults, right?
You may be thinking, “lady, I’m just trying to make it through until bedtime.”
Mature kids can seem so distant from our current seasons of parenting, can’t it? 18 years old is a lifetime away and we will always be in this exhausting phase of life, right? True! Kidding.
Remember The End Goal
Lets remember the end goals that we have for our children, so we don’t become utterly exhausted and despondent in our parenting through these “terrible twos.” Communicating needs isn’t a strong point of most 2 year olds, so that obstacle is likely to translate into an expression of frustration for your toddler. Simply tipping a stack of blocks can bring out shouts and irritation from a toddler.
Screeches of frustration are far from abnormal behavior, so don’t despair or surrender.
So lets all begin by taking a deep breath. Where your child is right now, in this fatiguing period of parenting, is certainly not where they’ll be permanently. Goodness, as grown adults we still go through refining seasons, don’t we? So why then are we so shocked when our children experience these same periods as well?
Maybe because they come in a tiny package? I don’t know. But what I do know is that there are practices that we can establish as the parents to help our little ones learn and grow through this very pivotal time in their young lives.
Parenting requires much commitment and patience on our parts. And lets be honest, sometimes we nail it and other days we just don’t have it in the tank. Thankfully we don’t have to do everything 100% right all of the time, but lets do and give it our very best.
Its so worth it because they are so worth it.
We discovered our 18 month old was suffering from a case of mistaken identity. He all of the sudden mistook himself for George. You know, “George – George – George of the jungle.” Right down to the pounding of the chest accompanied with the howling.
Oh yes. Our son thought he was the ruler of the jungle as well as our home. We found him attempting to bully his sisters, who are double his size and weight. But those loud shrieks and squeals control a lot more than one might think.
He also began hitting and snatching their toys. It’s hard to think of your precious little angel conducting himself more like a fallen angel, but that’s just what was occurring!
I found myself uncomfortable with the whole scenario. On one hand I strongly disliked how aggressive and barbaric he was acting, and yet, for some reason I found myself making excuses for him. “He’s tired” or “Girls, he only wants a turn” or how about this one, “He’s not even two yet, he doesn’t understand.” HAH! He actually understood things quite well: If he demanded it, he got it.
That’s very very common behavior for a two year old toddler, but it’s also common to make the big mistake of allowing a toddler to run your home. We decided to try simply redirecting our son for a while, and for a while it sort of worked. But at the end of the day he wasn’t learning anything through redirecting. Most importantly, that he didn’t call the shots. This is so crucial for our little ones to learn, friends.
Catering to you children when they are first born is necessary, but it is also an easy habit to fall into. But we do them a giant disservice when we keep up this catering act and don’t introduce them to the reality that they do not get to call all of the shots. They do not set the terms, and are not running the show.
It’s important to remember how harmful it is to others, as well as our own children, when we don’t demand the best of our kids. They have so much potential, such a bright future, but we must be diligent now to plant seeds that will blossom and provide many benefits later.
When Redirecting Doesn’t Work
Redirecting does work particularly when a quick remedy to misbehavior is the only option, such as in dangerous scenarios. But oftentimes redirecting and distracting doesn’t do a great deal to teach your toddler that their behavior is not acceptable. As 2 year olds, all 3 of our kids could only be redirected for so long, and it really didn’t get to the heart of some issues.
We decided to try the time out chair, also known as the dreaded NAUGHTY CHAIR. Dun dun DUN! Why do we avoid saying words like naughty these days? If we want our kids to clearly communicate then we should as well. Lets just be willing to call things what they are, shall we?
When our little guy decided to go ahead and whack his sister in hopes of her giving up Mr. Potato Head, we would calmly go over to him, take the toy out of his hands and place it back into sisters hands, who was about to wring his neck. And then we would tell him, “No, we do not hit and take. That is wrong. You’re going to have a time out now.”
I’ve heard it said to leave your children in a time out chair for as many minutes as their age, so we would go for the solid two minutes. You may find yourself placing your toddler back in the time out chair repeatedly as they get used to what is expected of them. Continue to do so as many times as needed. Consistency.
There are very few toddlers that enjoy sitting still and in one place, and your toddler is likely to offer protest most of the time. After their time is up, be sure to bring your child over to the offended and tell him to say sorry. Hurt siblings might need a hug to close the issue. Again, you will not see this bad behavior change overnight, but you will see a change over time.
Safe Home Safe Kids
Being sure to address misbehavior and apologies can make so many things right in your home. You also establish a sense of justice and safety for you children. Siblings along with your child’s playmates will so appreciate this new found sense of order in your home.
Your toddler will also find peace in their parents sense of authority. Children truly do not thrive in chaos. And chaos is exactly what comes from a toddler calling the shots with their out of control behavior.
Hang in there mom and dad. This is just the beginning of the long equipping process of our children’s journeys. We place tools in their little emotional tool boxes when we teach them how to be self controlled.
Lets not be afraid of the tantrums and fits, but use them as an opportunity to train and instruct. So take a deep breath, recompose yourself, and get vision for your child’s future, which is endless when we teach them well.