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The “Terrible Twos” and How to Deal with the “No” Phase

When children reach 18-36 months, they start to develop their own personality and begin to have their own thoughts and independence. This is also a time when they start testing your authority and limits, so it’s a vital stage for teaching them which behaviors are appropriate and which are not.

This stage of their development is not a parent favorite, but there are a few things you can do to make it a tiny bit easier for both you and your child.

  1. Do not argue and stay calm. Arguing with your child will only drain your energy. It’s akin to trying to hold water in your hands. Save yourself the time and exhaustion by accepting that you cannot win with toddlers.

  2. Make them feel important. Ask your child for help with little things like having them wear their shoes on their own or having them choose which toy to bring on your trip. Giving them responsibility, no matter how small, makes them feel grown up and have a sense of independence.

  3. Give them two choices. By giving them the option to decide for themselves, your toddler feels like they are in control. For example, if they refuse to eat, instead of having the option to say no, ask them, “Do you want the apple or the mango?” instead.

  4. Ignore the tantrums. Sometimes ignoring the bad behavior and praising the good ones will teach your child which actions are acceptable to you.

  5. Be silly and make them laugh. Distracting them with funny behavior sometimes makes it easier for you to have them follow your instructions.

  6. Pick your battles. Ask yourself whether saying yes to your child will really be that bad. For example, will saying yes to wearing those rain boots during the summer actually harm your child?

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