I have two girls, luckily for me, they’re now ten – but they were once boisterous two year olds. For about two years or so in that period, my wife and I struggled with our sanity. Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying – two year olds can drive you genuinely crazy.
Getting ready for fatherhood is more than reading Dr. Spock. You’ll need to constantly keep an eye on your little ones, childproof the electrical outlets and generally make sure the kids are always out of harm’s way. That’s the easy part; most new dads pick the important lessons along the way.
Most men often wonder if they have a softer side to help them be a good dad, and they want to know how they can tap into it. Don’t forget that as parents, you and your partner will be the most important persons in the life of your child and so should create time out of your busy schedules for them. Scary? It’s really a basic three-step rule: Look at your kid, feel what you feel and let your little girl or boy know. You should .
From our experience and interactions with other parents, it’s safe to say that you will hear a lot of “no” and a lot of “I don’t want to.” While this may be normal for children of that age, your life doesn’t feel normal because of it, in fact, your life can feel like a living hell. But, don’t worry, there are certain steps you can take to occasionally remove that pesky “in” from “insane”. Take a look at my partner and I’s parents’ guide to dealing with two-year-olds:
Pick Your Fights
So they have refused to get dressed, ignore them. After all, it’s not winter. So they won’t eat their lunch, ignore her. If they were hungry, they would eat. For the sake of your sanity, you have to overlook some things. I recommend you make a project for yourself: choose three things, and then decide to stop caring about them. And, yes, I mean immediately – cold turkey.
You could halt hide and seek temporarily, or decide that when it’s time for them to get dressed, you will leave it to them (even if it takes 30 minutes). Pick the three and write them down. Tell your partner to hold you accountable if you break this self-agreement. He or she’s most likely going to agree with the idea; men especially have a habit of believing their wives or girlfriends are too soft in their child’s upbringing.
I know you may find it difficult to go through with this idea, because it’s something that I didn’t find easy myself. But, if done properly, it will help reduce your stress levels and make you feel closer to your son or daughter throughout the day. In some instances, especially with your first child, moms feel that their “good mom” tag is justified by how morally shaped their kids are. This is not always true. While some kids are tenacious, others aren’t – and moms have nothing to do with it. What you can do is to shape their lives, the best way you can.
Adopt the Use of Timeouts
If your child has done something really naughty, like leaving a mess on your bedding, or screaming unnecessarily in a public place, you may want to ensure that these don’t end up being repeat behaviours.
Giving your child timeouts is a deterrent that I strongly recommend, you may ask him or her to sit alone in the corridor for a few minutes. The timer will start when the child is quiet, and if they then fail to be quiet, you may have to reset the timer a few times. Hopefully not. Use best-selling books on discipline to see how best to use timeouts. Warn them repeatedly, unless their offence is serious, like hitting, never condone violence.
For instance: “Mommy said you should not touch the TV remote. Take a time out, that’s, two for time out, and now that is…. four”. When they’re back in the room, tell them: “You were given a timeout because you did not obey mommy. Do not do that next time please.” If they’re a problem again, send them back into timeout.
They can’t be suicidal, surely? And if they start banging their hands on the wall. Well, they only have to do that once, to realise it’s painful. Many parents are held hostage when their kids do dangerous things, like head banging and vomiting. What this is teaching the child is that they can get whatever they want, so long as they bang their head. If their actions become really dangerous, then you will have to calm them down first, and then put them in timeout again.
Lots of Rewards
“I like peanut butter”. Use it 3 to 4 times a day, so that it won’t lose its effect. Obedience should be rewarded. You should reward things that can’t be learned naturally. Take, for instance, “please be quiet, I’ll give you a nit of my peanut butter, if you can be quiet for 4 minutes.” You can also offer them “playtime with daddy”, during this period, you reward them by playing with them for a duration of time, no questions, no instructions.
All you have to do is control the narrative of the play session – “See I am driving the red bicycle. Zoom!” So the instruction would be, “if you start saying hi visitors, we will do 10 minutes of playtime with daddy”.
Try To Manage Your Child’s Emotions
Whenever your child starts getting irritated, edgy or upset, try to understand the reason for the mood change before it escalates. You may try another approach, like, “I can see you’re upset, let’s go home soon. It looks like you were having fun. Why not try five more? Just five minutes” (If they resist when it’s time, then just pick them up and leave.)
Try to Keep to their Nap and Eating Schedule
Make sure they keep to their nap schedule. Additionally, your kids should eat intermittently, not just random junk, but healthy snacks. They can eat in the backseat, and during that moment their mouths will be too occupied for them to annoy you.
This might also be a good time to start teaching your kids good table manners (not just for when you’re eating at home, but also when dining out, and having dinner with friends), such as waiting until everyone is served before eating, never stuffing the mouth, always picking up their plate and saying thank you; and never, ever chewing with the mouth open.
These will help equip them with important skills for social interaction that will serve them as they grow into adulthood. With good quality custom table pads, you can protect your table from heat, spills, and scratches or any other mess common with kids still learning their table manners.
Try to Find Humor in Tense Situations
It’s definitely easier said than done. For the record, I’m not saying you should make fun of your kids, but try to find humour amidst the tension. Your kids may join in the frenzy, even when they’re not really aware of what’s going on.
Compliment Them Frequently
Compliment them as much as possible, even for trivial feats, like, “You were really brave, I like how you told off the dog for doing a bad thing.” Don’t say “good job”, it doesn’t really make sense, just be specific about how their actions were helpful. For instance, “when you stood up for your sister, you showed mommy and daddy they can rely on you”. While this may not ensure discipline, it will foster a positive relationship with your kids.
That’s it for now. Keep these in the back of your mind, and remember that your child will soon be three, not that it’s going to get much better. But do enjoy this time with your children while it lasts. My wife and I survived, yes, we raised two troublesome two-year olds, and we’re still here!