It feels like overnight that cute, adorable child that would lovingly respond to all your requests of blowing kisses and making cute faces become possessed by an evil spirit that yells and throws tantrums whenever they don’t get what they want. Around the two years of age (sometimes sooner, like around 18 months) a childhood phenomenon takes place. It’s called by specialists as “the terrible twos” also known as “the first adolescence.”

It is a stage of development when the child very likely will start hitting, kicking, throwing back their bodies, throwing objects and crying whenever they get a “no” or when parents ask for something. To defy parents orders and requests by any grown-up is, in fact, the most common reaction during this phase of your child’s life and of course the defying can involve screaming, slapping, inconsolable tears, piercing cries and “throw themselves” on the floor tantrums… It is that time of parenthood when mothers and fathers invariably experience public embarrassment – and collect more than a few judging looks by onlookers.

+ The age of biting, hitting and kicking: how do I proceed?

All of the above-mentioned behavior is expected in this important developmental phase. Prepare yourself to be challenged every time your toddler needs to change clothes, or take a bath, change diapers, get off of a table, wash their hands or put a toy away. Your little one will very likely contradict you every step of the way.

And, as means to test their parents’ patience – and their own limits and emoticons – some kids will change moods out of the blue. One minute they seem happy and friendly, the next they pout and start crying.

Why do kids throw tantrums?

This all happens because the child begins to see themselves as their own person, an individual, and not just an extension of their mother. Fits and tantrums are a way to voice their wants and needs, of establishing their own space with the tools they have at hand (crying, screaming…). Since children aren’t born knowing how to deal with their feelings, they learn by trial and error. Truth be told, this is their time to learn their limits and this is how they do it.

Don’t take it as an attack against you and don’t think your baby is trying to displease loving loving parents. Actually, it gets complicated for the child as well as the adults. think about it, toddlers still have no control over their wills and feelings, they cant deal with frustration and even contradict themselves.

+ Frustration: an important concept to learner

What to do during a temper tantrum?

What can you do? First, let it run its course, help little ones express their feelings, validating what they are experiencing. Say something like, “You’re mad because you don’t want to change, but you have to put on clean clothes”. Whenever there is a tantrum or a fit, as soon as the child calms down, position yourself at the kid’s height, looking them in the eyes and explain why their behavior is inadequate. 

To help kids calm down you can try to change their focus to something else and pretend the fit doesn’t catch your attention(not always easy to do).

+ How to impose limits for my child?

Practicing self control

Self-control, on the other hand, can be practiced through games that involve swapping things, like playing with a ball. It’s also a way for the little ones to learn how to wait and share. Telling them a story similar to the conflict you’re facing might help.

Also, pay close attention to your child’s physical state. Hunger, sleepiness, pain and even an uncomfortable piece of clothing can be the culprit for their bad mood and can intensify the tantrums. Basically, train your patience: while intense, it’s just a phase that tends to fade as your baby matures his or her system of processing and controlling emoticons – around age 3 or 4.

Read next:

+ What to do in moments of aggression?

+ New fears, new precautions

+ 20 months: time to make that plate more colorful

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