5 parenting & terrible twos tips for handling your headstrong toddler

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As my life changed greatly when giving birth to my son James almost two years ago, I realised my blog also changed. Some kids topics and diy's sneaked into it and with this post I think it now definately becomes a creative-person-who-is-also-a-mum-blog. Sorry for those of you who do not relate to kids and kids life but this is who I am right now and I hope you can still find inspiration and joy in my other not kids-orientated posts. ;-)

Ok, I wanted to write about parenting. James is now 21 months and quickly approaching the two year mark. With this said  you might get were I'm going... the terrible twos. As James is pretty quick with things, unfortunately he also decided to start this 'NO' period a bit sooner than sceduled.
I'd like to share a few tips and tricks with you on how to handle a headstrong two year old.

Please note that I'm not a parenting expert but simply sharing my experiences with you.

Ok, here we go:

1. Iphones, apps and tablets

As a child of his era, James loves playing apps on our Iphones. Because I do not want a child that is behind a little screen all day long (or a broken Iphone) I do the following to keep the use restricted:
-Before I give him the Iphone, I tell him to go sit on the sofa or at the atble.
-I show him a timer and tell him that he can play with the phone but when the timer goes off, he needs to hand it over to me.
-then, when the timer goes off, remind him of the deal (James is so used to this that he doesn't need to be reminded anymore)

I found that the concept of 'you can do this but this are the rules/ is what will happen' works very well. I tried to imaging what it would be like if I was playing with something and someone whould come up to me and say 'ok stop, now it's enough' without any warning, I would be pissed and confused. As a child is a little person with feelings I suppose they would feel the same, right?

2. The same goes for watching TV/ going to bed/ and so on

- tell him/her in advance how many short kids shows he can see/ puzzles to play/ enz.
- let's say to told that is was two puzzles. When he's playing with the second puzzle, tell him 'this is the second puzzle, teh last one you can play with, after that we... (fill in: go outside, clean up, etc).
- when the second one is finished remember him/her of the deal. (James after askes: 'another one?" but when I remind him of what we agreed, he's ok with it).

3. food

James often has moments when at diner time he refuses to eat. Because I do not want to stress about if he get's enough veggies and such I do the following:

-At diner time he's often to tired to eat but at lunch time he's ok so at lunch time I give him diner!
One of my favorite ways to get him eat good things is to make a pancake with whole wheat flower or chickpea flower, grated carrot (or another vegetable) and (goat)milk or egg. In this pancake you can simply put everything you feel he/she needs. Spinache works well too, the pancakes turn green and I call them dino or crocodile pancakes.

So, healty meal: check! relaxed mum at diner: check!

- at diner time I let him eat with us and if he says he does not want to eat I tell him: 'you do not have to eat but you do need to sit with us at the table, that's what we do at diner time'. Then, after some grumbling (ignore screaming and yelling, just remind him/her of the rules) he starts eating anyway because he sees us eat. (Sometimes only a few bites but: no stress because he already got his nutrients at lunch time!).
- another thing that helps greatly is having James help me with cooking (putting sliced veggies in a pan and such), he loves that!

4. soother

We had some trouble with the soother. When James is theething he wants it all the time, but surprise: I do not htink this is a good idea! This is what we did:

- If he has sore theeth we give him a slice of cucumber or a small carrot (I'm not such a big fan of plastic bite toys and James is by now a bit too old for them anyway).
- We told James he can have the soother only in bed or in the car.
- we need to remind him now and than but the fact that he knows when he cannot and, more important can have it is mostly enough.

5. anger attacks 

Ok, I have to be frank here: anger attacks are just super exhausting and very tricky to deal with.
When at home I do the following:

- I tell James that he can be angry but that I will go do something else (read a book, cook, etc). We made a little area in the living room with a blanket and pillows where he can be angry and throw with the pillows (only with the pillows!!)
- when he's done screeming, and rolling and throwing (this can take a while) I'll go sit with him and read or do something else to calm him down some more ---> this way he learns that he does not get any attention when angry (but that there is room for his anger, everyone is entiteled to his moods I believe but within restrictions) but that he does when he's calm/ being nice again.

Outdoors I find anger attacks very difficult to handle (especially because there can be an audience) but I do my best to do the following:

- Ignore the audience! You know you child best, dispite the 'meant well' advise and comments people make.
- say:  'Oh, are so angry? Well I'm going... [fill in] are you coming with?'
- if NO (most common) I can do two things:
  1. pick him up and tell him he can be angry but that we need to... (fill in) or he cannot lay on
      the street/ ground/ etc.
  2. if it's safe to let him do his thing, I just go do something else (in the supermarket, go a bit
      futher up the lane, where you can still see him/her but also ignore him/her a bit).
      While doing so I say things like 'oh, such a shame James cannot help me with this yummy
      peanut butter/ bread/ etc. Oh, what a yummy cookies/ bread/ nuts. The basket is so heavy I
      wish James came to help me with it.'
  3. again, only if it's safe: I walk on while saying 'bye James', and keep an eye on him from
      a spot here he can not see me. Most of the time he'll come after me when he can't see me
      anymore. (If he does, I say 'Hi James, I'm so happy you're coming with me, well done!')
  4. distract your child with something else (not a cookie or buying toys and such but point things
      out like birds, trees, cars, and so on)

- singing can work great with my son too. I have this 'are you angry...' song (made up) that will most of the time make him smile. If not, I go back to the other steps.
- sometimes James is so angry he get's stuck in it and all other things do not work. Then I let him rage for a few minutes, then pick him up and hold him untill he calmes down (saying  things like; are you so angry, it will be ok, shhhh, shhhh)

I think key with this is that you do not feel ashamed or judged by other people and do what you feel is best and DO NOT admit to his/her bad behavior (not give that cookie he's nagging about for example).

then a few other things I always keep in mind:
- never yell or shout, be calm in the way you say things
- if I feel too frustrated and angry myself I leave the room (if possible and safe) for a few minutes to calm down. If needed I call someone to talk about how frustrated I feel.
- never say things like ' you're horrible, I hate you, be normal (what is normal anyway?), don't be so...
- accept things are not always going the way you wish they would. It can't always be paradise.
- be patient, everything passes!

I hope this is helpful! Happy parenting ;-)


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