Family

How we are surviving the ‘terrible twos’

This post is the second part of a previous article of mine that I posted a few weeks ago. If you’re curious to know how I deal with my two-year-old daughter’s temper tantrums and what I do to make her behave well most of the time, keep on reading.

As I mentioned in the previous part, things went wrong as far as discipline is concerned. The cause of the problem was that my husband and I started to disagree. For me, the boundaries stayed where they had been, but my husband became more lenient. When Janka wasn’t willing to do something or became very stubborn, I stuck to the three warnings I wrote about in Part 1. My husband, though, wanted to give her one more chance. And one more and one more, so we got to the sixth “just one more chance” several times. Of course, Janka has an incredible talent for detecting the deterioration of harmony between her parents, so she took advantage of it.

After a few weeks, the situation was catastrophic. Before that, it took Janka 20 minutes to get ready in the morning. This time period extended to an hour and a half. The first tantrum of the day happened when she didn’t want to get out of her sleeping bag. She wanted to wear the lion-pattern diapers only, the ones with the giraffe-pattern were out of the question. She wanted to go to nursery school wearing her slippers and pyjamas, etc. Besides the morning raging tantrums, soon the evening ones arrived: she wasn’t willing to get undressed, have a bath or put on her pyjamas. (At the nursery school, the nursery nurses didn’t notice anything of it as Janka behaved like an angel there.) One Friday evening she was ranging for more than an hour, wearing only a diaper and she was screaming until her skin turned purple. Feeling totally exhausted by the screaming, she ended up falling asleep.

That night, I didn’t get much sleep. I was trying to figure out the solution. By 3 a.m., my plan was ready. Step 1 was to restore the harmony and agreement between me and my husband. He got up early, too, so we had enough time to talk about how we should go on. Fortunately, it was a long weekend, so we had more time than usual to get Janka back on track. Step 2: in the morning, when Janka was waking up, I entered her dim room and smuggled her diapers out. I put the lion ones in a shoe box, put the lid on and placed the box on the shelf above the toilet, where I store our cleaning products. I put the giraffe diapers back to the original packaging and took them back to Janka’s room. No options, no tantrums.

Step 3 came when she was completely awake. We took one more tantrum because of the sleeping bag as she wasn’t willing to take it off – of course. My husband started to get her dressed and when Janka wasn’t looking, I took the sleeping bag out of her room and hid it. From that day on, Janka has been using a duvet which has a huge advantage: when she sits up in the morning, the duvet falls off of her, so we are one step closer to getting dressed. When she gets dressed, she can choose from two options: this top or that top, these pants or those pants, etc. The two options are offered by me, but it’s Janka who makes the final decision.

If she still refuses to get dressed, I attack her where it hurts her the most. As she likes doing things on her own, this is what I say to her: ‘I’ll count to three. If you don’t get dressed on your own, I’ll get you dressed’. Then I slowly count to three, sounding angrier and angrier at every number. If she doesn’t get dressed, I get her dressed. It happened every morning for three days. She ended up screaming at the top of her lungs and threw terrible tantrums, but after three days, she realised that I wasn’t joking. We apply the same strategy when she doesn’t want to have a bath. ‘If you don’t go to have a bath, I’ll take you to the bathroom.’ or after having a bath ‘If you don’t put your bathing toys back to their places, I’ll do it’.

It’s important to note that I don’t have any eye contact with her when I reach three at the end of the warning phase and get her dressed or tidy up instead of her. However, she can tell from my face that I’m genuinely angry. It only lasts until punishing is happening. After that, everything gets back to normal.

This is where we are now. We managed to decrease her tantrums that had been going on for two weeks to the minimum in 3-4 days. Of course, sometimes she tries to rebel but it’s a lot easier to get her back on track. My husband and I agree with each other most of the time, which is also a huge help in disciplining.

Do you have a tried and true strategy for surviving the terrible twos? If you do, share it with me in the comments section.
(source of the image: freepik.com)

One Comment

  • elissa

    i believe knowing that everyone who has children, should know that by the age of 2, they are referred to the terrible twos. that being said, not everyone knows how to handle that, even if they previously had a child before hand. mostly, because well each child is different, and not every child does the exact same thing as the one before or the one after.

    reading your post, you gave out helpful tips in how to cope or handle the terrible twos in ways that you found worked for your situation.

    i myself dont have kids, but ive watched my nieces and nephews go through the toddler years.

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