5 Things I Did to Navigate the "Terrible" & Terrific Twos

When you’re sleep deprived, overwhelmed, in dire need of some mommy / alone time (and more), dealing with your unpredictable tantrum throwing toddler is maybe the last thing that you may feel like you have the capacity for.

When you are sleep deprived, overwhelmed, in dire need of some mommy / alone time (and more), dealing with your unpredictable tantrum throwing toddler is maybe the last thing that you may feel like you have the capacity for. As a mama who has been there twice, I unfortunately don’t have a magic wand to wave and skip the challenging parts of raising children; however, I can share a few things I did that helped me to navigate through this developmental milestone.

The first thing I did was acknowledge that my understanding of children (and their behavior) needed to be updated in order to accommodate their needs. Growing up, I believed that tantrums were “bad” and an indicator of misbehaved children and when they misbehaved aka threw tantrums, they needed to be punished, not disciplined or supported; but punished (corporally).

The second thing I did was seek resources that could assist me in upgrading my beliefs about children and their behavior; as well as equipping me with the skills that I needed to properly support them during those moments. Educating myself about child development helped me to understand that their behavior is in fact, developmentally appropriate. In turn, it led me to change my approach when parenting my children. Changing my mindset helped me immensely, because I could release my parental “obligation” to punish them and instead provide them with the love, compassion, and support that they deserved. In addition, I viewed these moments as an opportunity for me to learn about my children and in return, for them to learn about me and our (familial) boundaries.

The next thing I did was change how I phrased this developmental milestone. Instead of calling it the “terrible twos”, I referred to it as the “terrific twos”. Children are not terrible, they are terrific tiny humans who are curious about their surroundings and are experiencing an incredible amount of growth. It is imperative that we meet them with patience and understanding, especially during difficult moments.

Reframing my thoughts about my children’s “inappropriate” behaviour (aka tantrums) to acknowledging that my children were tiny humans who were not giving me a hard time, but who were having a hard time was a game changer. Understanding that their brains were not fully developed in addition to the fact that they did not have the language, tools, or skills to communicate their needs. That is where we as parents come in. My job as their mother is to create a safe space and nurturing environment for them to learn, grow, and thrive. This cannot happen if I am stifling their growth and development because I have an inaccurate concept of how children are “supposed to” behave.

Another thing I did was put myself into their shoes and asked myself, if I was having a hard time and didn’t have the language, tools, or resources that I needed to express myself, how would I want to be treated? As an adult, I have moments where I am experiencing something, but for whatever reason, I am unable to articulate my experience and / or my needs. I would want the people around me to provide me with the space, patience, and understanding that I need to work through what I’m experiencing.

Finally, I took care of myself and got what I needed to the best of my abilities so that I could show up for my children in the way that they needed me to. I’d like to make an important note that this did not always happen (or at least the way that I would have desired); and on the days that it didn’t I gave myself the space and grace that I needed, in addition to practicing self-compassion because I too am a deserving human who was (and is still) learning.

As humans, we are continuously learning and evolving; the same is true for our parenting journeys. Apply this perspective to your experience as a parent in those times that you feel frustrated and want to give up. Remember that you are not alone, we have all been there many times before and will probably feel that way many more times in the future as we experience different phases of life not only with ourselves but our children as well. Parenting is not easy. As much of a blessing this beautiful calling and experience is, at times; it can also feel incredibly difficult and frustrating, etc. for a variety of reasons. In those tough times, I invite you to pause; step back, breathe, and become aware of what is happening. Determine what you and your familial needs are and take it from there. It is not necessary to consume every piece of content to be the “right” or “perfect” parent, there is no such thing. Forgive yourself for buying into that story and when you are ready, release it. All you can do is the best that you can given what you have access to at that moment. If you make a mistake, take a deep breath, take the necessary steps to correct the mistake, and move forward. One step at a time with one foot in front of the other.

Take deep care, enjoy the journey, and be well mamas.