2-year-old crisis: how to transform the terrible two into wonderful two®?

2-year-old crisis: how to transform the terrible two into wonderful two®?

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Between the period of 18 months to 3 years, the baby becomes a young child develops many abilities, discovers the world, language. He asserts himself (especially with the famous no), but also experiences emotional storms. It’s madness in his brain! It’s not easy for parents to deal with stupidity and anger… Should we scold, let it happen, talk again and again? Déborah Cohen-Tenoudji, teacher, parenting coach and author, gives her advice for living this stage of development as best as possible with your (big) baby.

Ha the very famous and famous 2-year-old crisis, the “no” period, the opposition/affirmation phase, the terrible two… there are many qualifiers to summarize this delicate period when your child is no longer completely makes a baby and starts to grow. But what is it exactly?

Crisis of 2 years or terrible two, what is it really?

“There is no scientific source on this stage of the child’s life”, assures in the preamble, Déborah Cohen-Tenoudji, parenting coach and author of the book “I’m 2 years old!”. Clearly, unlike other periods of baby development (life in utero, first months, etc.), there are no scientific studies that have highlighted this period as being a phase of classic development. Besides, good news, not all children and therefore all parents experience this famous 2-year-old crisis. Asked about the definition of this period, our expert explains: “suddenly around 18 months, the child walks, expresses himself, he is more confident. This creates a break with the family lifestyle established until now. From a physical point of view, their brain connections are multiplied, gross motor skills develop, with a desire to explore. But at the same time, the child cannot manage the emotions, the numerous information in his brain. It explodes and the parents are distraught.”. In summary, the period of the terrible two is the assembly of all these factors. So of course, as a young parent and therefore adult, we have difficulty understanding (and for good reason we have no memory as a child of this period) and accepting these changes in behavior on the part of our son or daughter, and especially this emotional instability at the course of the day. And it is even more difficult to give your child the appropriate response.

To better understand, Déborah Cohen-Tenoudji gives an example: “it’s as if you, an adult, were abroad, in a country where you don’t master the language and you feel misunderstood. You try to make yourself understood, but in vain. Well, it’s a similar situation for a toddler.”.
Please note, for the parents concerned, that this period of turbulence and opposition will end around the age of 3, when they start school. Explanation: after the first term of kindergarten, the child is calmer and is better able to communicate and understand how the world around him works. There are therefore fewer crises.

What is the trigger to transform the terrible two into wonderful two?

For Déborah Cohen-Tenoudji, this observation is linked to her personal experience within her family. A school teacher and mother of 3 children, she has never had to experience the 2-year-old crisis. “I observed my first two children a lot, I also had time to devote to them. I was amazed by their curiosity at that age, their desire to discover the world. When my third was born (during coronavirus), I also experienced a wonderful two. And I wanted to talk about it. First on Facebook. And other parents also came together and it created a real community. I invented this expression “wonderful two®” to echo the “terrible two”. The idea is that if we approach this period differently, we experience it differently.”

Taking another look at the 2-year-old crisis

For fans of positive education, this is obvious, but for other parents who find themselves distraught, lost, It is not necessarily easy to keep calm, to be patient, to calmly approach the crises of your offspring, to provide an appropriate response, particularly when it comes to anger. And even more so if it happens several times during the day or at bedtime. According to our expertit is important not to be in the negative car “andchild or adult, we don’t need a label to enter life”. So, when she was a teacher, with her colleagues, they did not talk about the behavior of students who were going to change classes and therefore teachers to avoid giving a label, before even knowing the child. “We cannot have a negative representation of our child and attach a dark label to him because we love our child. He’s just a baby, a growing child.”assures the parental coach.

The right reflexes to fully experience the wonderful two®

  • Have a neutral vision
    Your baby has become a child. He grows up. He is going through a new phase in which we must support him. Patience and listening are essential.
  • Put few prohibitions
    Apart from of course the limits linked to security rules, to avoid overwhelming him with constant “no’s”.
  • Remove dangerous/cherished objects
    Another way to avoid the many “no’s” is to constantly say “you don’t touch”. The goal is to avoid negation.
  • Empower
    In connection with Montessori pedagogy, it also means explaining, giving missions and therefore autonomy. Especially since young children appreciate being able to help and manipulate. Depending on age, he will be able to store spoons or forks in a drawer, install placemats in the morning, clean windows, use a sponge, turn off the lights in the evening when going to bed, before going to sleep. The child then becomes a helper, who must be valued.
  • Faire diversion
    When something stupid happens, instead of letting their child do it, the adult will then draw their attention to something else so that they avoid the stupidity, for example during a meal or in another situation. This also allows you to keep your baby waiting in a waiting room by making him play with something taken from his bag. The idea is then to channel it, occupy it.
  • Prevent frustration
    To anticipate a possible crisis or anger, such as when you have to leave the park or the friend’s room, take the time to warn your child using gestures, materializing the 5 minutes before the end by the apple of the open hand with the 5 fingers. This way your toddler will be warned and you will have to repeat this gesture regularly so that he becomes familiar with the same type of situations.
  • Understanding emotions
    The brains of young children do not yet have the maturity necessary to manage the information and emotions that are rushing around. It is then important to name and talk about emotions, with the help of readings on this theme, by dramatizing your adult face for better understanding by your son/daughter. Another way to anticipate crises.
  • Stimulate intellectually
    According to Déborah Cohen-Tenoudji, “sometimes children are screaming because they are bored. We must then stimulate their abilities (which are often underestimated), without transforming them into learned monkeys. We must explain to them the world around them (nature, the environment). The child needs to know the world around him and this soothes him.”.

Is your child having a seizure? parents, play it down!
The seizures are not serious. They are natural. As an adult, you may also feel misunderstood. To calm your child, you can take them in your arms (this works most of the time), put yourself at their level to understand them and support them. Know that there are moments of explosion on the part of the children… and the parents. It is a period that requires resources, energy for adults. But remember, tomorrow is another day…

I can’t do it, what should I do?

Before committing any form of violence (physical or mental) on your child, get help.
If you feel at your wits’ end, helpless, then it is important to pass on the baton.

  • To a close family member (grandparent, godfather, godmother, etc.);
  • By contacting the PMI;
  • By requesting occasional childcare (crèche, daycare);
  • By using a trusted babysitter.

Even if it’s only for an hour or two, it will allow you to take a breath, get out of the house, call a friend… If you can’t trust your child, go out with him. The goal is to break this dynamic, situation to move towards appeasement, for the better.

No to violence as a mode of education
For our expert, there is no concession to be made regarding violence. Child or adult, there is no hierarchy. We are equal. You don’t hit an adult or a child. Moreover, no scientific study has shown the positive impact of violence. She also wishes to point out that violence against minors is illegal in France. Did you go too far, did you push your child? Just apologize.

5 key tips to help parents fully experience the wonderful two

  1. Be aware that your toddler is not here to bother us.
    He is there to grow and our role as young parents is to introduce him to the world.
  2. User of the diversion technique.
    If we feel that a crisis or stupidity is…