Life Hacks for Surviving the Terrible Twos
Let’s face it, while the apple of our eye, most 2-year olds can act like little jerks from time to time to the point that they have their own trending hashtag on Twitter. It can be super devastating, jarring, mind-blowing to see your sweet cherubic baby morph into a meltdown monster.
The good news is that according to Dr. Jay Hoecker at the Mayo Clinic, there is a scientific reason for two-year-old tantrums:
“Two-year-olds are struggling with their reliance on their parents and their desire for independence. They’re eager to do things on their own, but they’re beginning to discover that they’re expected to follow certain rules. The difficulty of this normal development can lead to inappropriate behavior, frustration, out-of-control feelings and tantrums.”
So now that we know why our little darlings are acting so uncharacteristically cuckoo, we can come up with hacks to deal with these challenging times. For me, the key to understanding 2-yer old behavior can be summed up in one word – CONTROL. They want to have a say in their own outcomes and making their own choices. Here are some of the most challenging two-year-old tantrums and some lifehacks to help deal with them.
This post may contain affiliate links to products I love. Please see our full disclosure policy here.
I DON’T WANT TO BRUSH MY TEETH
At first, a toothbrush can seem novel and even exciting, but the minute a toddler realizes they have a say in the matter, that’s going to change.
- It’s all about the toothbrush. I’ve had a lot of success with the light-up toothbrushes. They blink for 60-seconds and that helps keep toddlers accountable. You can also find brushes with their favorite Frozen, Winnie The Pooh., etc, character of the day.
- Let them do it themselves – they are learning about independence and self-care, and there is no harm in letting them brush independently as long as you get in and finish the job after.
- When it’s your turn to finish. I usually tell my kids they have either bugs, or their favorite movie/show characters in their mouths and they need to come out “Hey, is Simba in your molars? Ew!” ~quick brush out does the trick!
- A good stepstool – A good step stool can be key (save version here). Once they can look in the mirror and see how the brush works and floss their pearly whites, it can help them feel more in control. After all, CONTROL is what the two’s are all about!
I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP/NAP
Babies and little ones who have been sleeping well with no issues can start to resist bedtime around this age, which can pose a real problem as Mom’s need time to
write their memoir’s, read War and Peace drink a bottle of Chardonnay in peace. Here are a few things to consider when your little one starts a tantrum around sleep time:
- Is it time for a bed or bedding upgrade? Toddlers crave control, so shopping with your little buddy for a new bed or bedding set or new stuffed animal can make bedtime exciting again.
- Is it time for a night light? Kids are getting a lot smarter at this age, and for me, this was when Dylan started feeling “worried” about the dark. A good night light does the trick.
- Bedtime routine – We all know the importance of a good bedtime routine – what that means for each kid varies per family. For us it’s a shower, small snack and chill time with family for 20-30 minutes, teeth, books, song, and bed. Having things to look forward to at each step of the way can help. Also, having a good selection of books that your toddler can choose puts them back in control. A few of my absolute favorite books for 2-year old’s include: Little Blue Truck, I Love You Stinky Face and Ten Wishing Stars. You can find more toddler sleep tips here.
I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THE PLAYGROUND/FRIEND’S HOUSE/ZOO/LIBRARY
Little ones can have a tough time leaving their favorite place and I can relate as it’s sort of the way I feel when my husband tells me it’s time to leave the wine bar. For these situations, the “this or that” line works very well. I also see my husband effectively apply it to me “We are leaving the wine bar in five minutes, but when we can get home, would you like to have a brownie or some chips and guac?” It’s surprisingly effective!
- This or that. Again, it’s about having control. You can ask your kids “would you like to leave in two minutes or five minutes” (Even though my two-year-old can’t tell time and always says two-minutes) she feels like she has some control and a say in the matter.
- Advanced notice – It’s always helpful to let your kids know what to expect next. Giving them a 5-minute advanced warning helps them get in that last slide or swing.
- What comes next. Again, giving choices around the upcoming transition can help ease these battles. “When we get home would you like to play with ponies or jump on your trampoline?” They feel they have a choice and are therefore bought into the transition.
Am I saying I have never left a playground with a screaming kiddo under one armpit – OF COURSE I HAVE! Kids are human beings and sometimes all else fails, but with these tricks in hand, you will be better armed to combat two-year-old control issues.
What are your best life hacks to combat two-year-old tantrums?