Everyone knows that two-year-olds can have a mind of their own. So how do you deal with their challenging behaviors in your home or when you are out in public?
According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations on Milwaukee’s southside and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “As two-year-olds learn more about the world around them and want to exert more independence, parenting definitely becomes more complex.”
Here are some tips to help you through.
Since your children are trying to be more independent, Anderson suggests that you offer choices to avoid challenging behaviors.
“Instead of simply serving orange slices with breakfast, ask your children if they would like apple slices or orange slices. Both are healthy options and will leave your children feeling more in control.”
Other opportunities for you to provide choices for your children include: laying out two outfits for the day and letting your children pick one; having your children pick out which cups they want to use with each meal; and allowing them to choose what three stories they want you to read at night. When you provide your children with choices, they will feel a sense of empowerment, and you will experience fewer behavioral issues.
Use Your Words
Each time a challenging behavior arises, try to remember that two-year-olds are working hard on developing their language skills. It is important to remind your children that they need to slow down and use their words when temper tantrums or challenging behaviors arise. Simply acting out will not get them what they want.
Anderson says, “Phrases such as ‘I can help you better when you use your words,’ or ‘Words work better than crying,’ or ‘In our family we use our words versus getting angry,’ remind children of the importance of verbally communicating.”
Stay Calm and Use Empathy
Anderson says, as difficult as it might be, as a parent you need to stay calm when your children display any challenging behaviors and try hard to empathize with them.
“Help your children recognize why they are feeling the way they do, and how they could be better handle their emotions. One way to do this is by talking with your children about their emotions whenever the opportunity arises. If you are reading stories together, watching TV, or even out in public and see an emotion being displayed, use these opportunities to help your children learn how to positively deal with their feelings.”
In that regard, Anderson reminds us to remember that children will emulate what they see around them. “If you and your spouse raise your voices toward each other, your children will think it is acceptable to raise their voices as well.”
Finally, Anderson says to keep things in perspective.
“As children get older, challenging behaviors will dissipate, if you teach them from the start that they have choices, they need to verbally communicate what they want, and they need to remain in control.”
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations on Milwaukee’s southside and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.