Where Did My Angel Go? 4 Tips to Manage the Terrible Two's
A couple weeks back a visit to a store turned into a nightmare when my two year old son had his first public meltdown. He threw himself on the pavement outside the store, rolled, kicked his legs and refused to get up. It was the first time I went completely blank and felt my hands tremble. I tried to remember everything I read about tantrums and the terrible two's. I could remember nothing!
My first thought was to rush over, carry him and disappear as quickly as I could. However, I knew that would not work and he would end up screaming louder leaving me with no choice but to give in to his demand (he wanted a piece of strawberry cake). I only had seconds to think so I chose to walk away and I prayed that would work. I looked him directly in the eye, didn't utter a word, turned around and just began walking. I took a few steps and pretended as if I had received a call, took out my phone and began talking. I could see him get up and walk towards me. Bingo! I walked on. He was running now, desperate to catch up but every time I turned around, he seemed to sense my agony and would just throw himself down again. This continued until we reached home (an almost 10 minute tantrum session in full public view). The stares I received did nothing to deter me but once we were home I sat down with him and addressed his behaviour immediately.
- I carry several snacks, juice and plenty of water whenever we are out. If it's a long walk or drive, I usually offer him a couple snacks in the beginning and space them out accordingly. I keep the most attractive or tasty snack for the end when a tantrum is most likely to happen and I'm quick to offer it as soon as I sense his discomfort.
- I'm always equipped with crayons, coloring book, picture books and picture cards. The crayons are a good distraction at restaurants (he sometimes gets to color the disposable placemat). The picture cards are helpful during long drives because we try to look for the object on the card or just let him talk about the image. Picture books are the last resort and then of absolutely necessary rhymes on my mobile.
- Naptime is never missed and this is tricky. As much as possible I try to schedule all activities after naptime but on many occasions I switch naptime to ensure at least an hour's nap before any outdoor activity.
- Shopping is the biggest tantrum trigger. I have never had a completely successful experience but I've learnt to get the important shopping done first and then focus on anything else. It's also a good idea to have a plan in case you find yourself caught in a full blown tantrum. Thinking ahead can actually make it a lot easier but whatever you decide just ensure you are not rewarding the tantrum behaviour. If not, you'll experience the same problem over and over again.