How to Avoid the Toddler Teffible Two’s

2 year olds. Don’t you just love ’em? Especially when they are rolling around the floor having a good old tantrum. So, are there any tips for making the terrible twos a little less terrible?

To begin with, don’t be taken in by their tiny size and innocent looks. They may not know many things, but there’s one talent they are born with. They know exactly how to manipulate you to get what they want! And, they will go to any extent to get it – throwing a tantrum is the easiest of them all.

So, how do you deal with them? By using exactly the same principles as you would with an older child:

A. First, be very clear about what behaviors you will accept and what you won’t. Avoid the non-essentials and focus on the important issues.

B. Secondly, avoid ambiguity. Give clear instructions in plain words. Don’t insinuate or taunt. Your child will most likely not understand what you mean. Make your point and leave it at that; don’t rub it in.

C. If you have spelt out the consequences of not complying with your instruction, carry it out otherwise the meaning of your words will be lost.

D. Another very effective way of getting across something to your two-year-old darling is to use what I call a ‘manners chair’. This is how it works:

Place a small child’s chair in a corner, facing into the room. Tell your child it is the ‘manners chair’ to teach manners when the child behaves badly. Whenever your child fails to do as told, just send him to the chair with words to the effect of: “Oh dear, you seem to have lost your good manners again. You had better go and sit in the chair until you find them again.”

Once they have found their manners – as evidenced by compliance or better behavior or them telling you so, then they can come off the chair. In the meantime you ignore them. Especially if they are fussing or whining.

In order to keep this light rather than as a heavy punishment, you can offer to help them to find their manners again. Suggest to them that they may have dropped them under the chair, or in their pockets, or perhaps they even fell in their shoes. This helps to turn them away from whining to a more positive attitude (and turns you from shouting to being helpful). Usually the manners are found pretty quickly.

Once the manners have been found, you can start from what the child was originally supposed to do, or perhaps apologize for the bad behavior.

The ‘manners chair’ is a positive way of telling your child what is expected of him. More often than not, children disobey instructions when they are not clearly given. Remember, manners are not taught in a day. You have to keep repeating and reinforcing them with awards and punishments. This is a fun way of doing it.

There is a danger that this in itself can become too much of a game for them since they get a lot of attention from you when you are helping them to find their manners. You will need to strike the right balance between “time-out” ie ignoring them, and a bit of assistance (since they are young, and this is all new to them).

This helps you remain calm and have a positive attitude. Let your child know you love him but you will not tolerate bad manners. Also, don’t rub it in; tell him you think it was a mistake, and will be corrected. There should be no permanent scars of it.

If your tiny toddler throws a tantrum in public, what will you do? Obviously, you can’t carry the manners chair everywhere. And, you don’t have to, if you remember the basic rule of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, and follow up with action.

Consider the following options: 1. Take your child in a corner and tell him that you will resume the activity after he has found his manners.

2. Take him out and do the ‘manners chair’ in the car. You can stay out and look away while he tries to find his manners. Don’t shout and scream and don’t lose patience. Above all, don’t get into a discussion till the manners have been found.

3. Abandon the shopping trip and go home and do the time out there.

Let me assure you that you will not have to do this many times. If you mean business, they will not disobey you. But, if you are not clear, they will go on trying to see how far they can go. For further information read my book. Here is the link:

All this is based on the foundational principles in my book, which can help you handle your toddler positively and pleasantly and save you the guilt of losing it once again.