Freestyle is 2 years old now.
At this point, a lot of people start talking about “The Terrible Twos” : the point where your once sweet, easy-going baby has become a walking, talking, tantruming toddler who has very strong opinions and wants everyone to know exactly what they are– usually very loudly and when you’re in public!
Freestyle is no stranger to the tantrum. A couple of months ago, I ended up having to carry her from our neighbourhood park (about 2 blocks away), kicking and screaming, in the heat, while 6 months pregnant.
Parenthood is just so special. 😉
When I was reading Paula Polk Lillard’s Montessori from the Start, I paid especial attention to the chapter entitled “The Developing Will.” I am used to shutting down potential sulk-fests from older kids in the classroom and have become (mostly) imperious to tearful pleads from students, but what the heck do I do with my own baby?!
One thing that I remembered from Lillard’s book was that young babies (under 1 year), are so interested in exploring their senses and can be distracted, if they want an object that they shouldn’t have, you can quickly take it away and replace it and they would still be happy.
However, between twelve and eighteen months, children’s brains begin developing and they can now hold onto thoughts and remember the objects. They are developing their will, which is a good thing, apparently. 🙂 It’s more difficult now to distract them by substituting said object with another because they now remember it.
So, what do you do? The two strategies that are suggested are: Redirection and Choice.
At this age, children’s language development is flourishing and using descriptive language will help redirect their thoughts to a new one. You can refocus your child’s attention to something else in the room using description. In the book, they used the class pet as an example because live animals are very interesting to children. Alas, we do not have any pets, so I’ve usually tried calling Freestyle’s attention to something she doesn’t normally look at in the room (e.g. a print that hangs in the corner of the room).
The second strategy is giving them choices. Specifically, two choices which have outcomes that are acceptable to the adult (you!). So, at dinner time you wouldn’t ask your child, “Do you want to eat dinner now?” because she could say “no” and that wouldn’t be an acceptable outcome. You could, however, say, “It is time for dinner. Do you want to wash your hands at the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink?”
For example, we’ve started to let Freestyle make choices on what she wants to wear in the mornings. Usually in the mornings, she likes to run around upstairs and will giggle and run away sometimes if you tell her to get dressed, so I do find it easier to get her to focus on the task at hand (getting dressed and ready for the day), by presenting her with two outfits to choose from. I’ve set them out the night before, based on the weather and what we’ll be doing that day, so both outfits are acceptable choices.
She loves being able to have this little bit of control. She is involved and is proud that she made a decision that directly (and immediately) affects her.
So far, I’m trying to keep to these two strategies, and on the whole, it does work. However, there are always going to be those times when you just have to ride out a tantrum and console yourself with a nice cold Greek yogurt popsicle (my current favourite snack!) in the kitchen while your little angel is screaming her head off and rolling around on the floor in the next room.
Any other advice for the so-called “Terrible Twos?”
And, as a bonus, here is something to watch if your child is biting. Enjoy!