Small Ideas, Big Benefits: Taming the Terrible Twos

If you’re a mum of a toddler, you’ll know by now that parenting a two to three year old isn’t always smooth sailing. There’s a reason the term Terrible Two’s exists, and while tantrums are an expected part of toddlerhood, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to go through them everyday. For everything. Convincing an opinionated, determined, stubborn toddler to do or not do something is almost as futile as telling a dog not to chase a cat! (Not that I’m comparing our munchkins to dogs…but you get the point). But by tweaking things a little bit in their favour, you can get the job done. With the help of other mums, childcare experts and stuff I’ve read on the Internet, I’ve put together some tips n’ tricks to help navigate the Terrible Twos.

Eliminating Toddler Fears: Monster Spray
Toddlerhood is when the word and concept of fear sneaks into their innocent minds. Our little beings are now making sense of the world, and although in a limited capacity, do have an understanding of what’s good and bad. And the bad often becomes ‘scary’. People, random objects, toys, even their once-favourite TV shows are suddenly a no-no because they feel scared of them. Fear of the dark/ night-time fears also start manifesting themselves at this age.
Enter the Monster Spray. Tell your toddler it’s a magic potion that scares away the monsters/ dark/ bad person or object or whatever else their insecurities are. So whenever toddler feels afraid, all they need to do is spray their fear away. The physical act of doing so along with the belief that they are shoo-ing X away, gives them a sense of power and security.

How to make your own Monster Spray
Get a spray bottle. Involve your toddler in decorating it with stickers/ wordings (My Monster Spray or Boo To You or whatever he chooses) and fill it with water. To make toddler feel that it is a special spray, add some food colouring and a few drops of essential oil for that magic fragrance. Your home-made Monster Spray is ready!

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Calendar Control
While toddlers enjoy their time at nursery, most (Little Man included) don’t like the idea of going there (i.e. leaving mummy and my toys). Which results in sulks, protests and tears during nursery drop-offs. But if your toddler knows what he is going to be doing the next day, it could make the process easier. A marked-out calendar helps toddlers know what to expect beforehand. Take a felt pen and colour the days your toddler attends nursery, Then show it to him the evening before. Soon he will know that on red days, for example, he has to go to nursery, while he is at home with mummy on blue days.
To make it a little more exciting, add a third colour to days on which special activities are planned, such as a visit to the zoo/ farm/ a special class. That way toddler will know that after two red days of school comes a yellow day of zoo-time! Something to look forward to. (Where possible, let your toddler choose the special activity so he feels more in control).

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Listening Ears
Fact: Toddlers don’t like to listen. Especially when they are playing/ watching telly/ doing something more interesting than listening to mummy! I picked this little tip from Little Man’s nursery, and it works wonders. When I want him to listen to me, I tell him to put on his ‘Listening Ears’ or ask ‘Where are your Listening Ears?’. That turns his attention towards me, as he points to his ears. It also gets the message across that he now has to ‘listen’ to something mummy has to say. Half the battle won.

Thinking Corner, not Naughty Corner
I openly stole this one from Little Man’s nursery too. Every toddler has gone into a ‘Naughty Corner’ at some point (part of growing up, eh) but what I like about the term (and reasoning behind it) ‘Thinking Corner’ as opposed to ‘Naughty Corner’ is that the toddler is supposed to ‘think’ about what wrong/ bad he’s done, realise his mistake and figure out how to better handle a similar situation in future. More importantly (and I’ve read this in child rearing articles as well), it’s important to let toddler know that what he’s done is naughty as opposed to making him feel that he, as a person, is naughty. It’s the behaviour that needs to be in the spotlight – and rectified – not the child.

Sticker /Reward Charts
This is a gem for when you want your toddler to do something (for the long-term, such as potty training, sleeping in his own bed or room/ not waking before 7 am). Every child likes rewards and will go the distance for it. You can buy fancy, sparkling reward charts in stores, but all you need is a paper, a pen and stickers to make your own!

Tell your child that whenever he does a pee/poo on the potty/ toilet (or sleeps an entire night in his own bed or room) he will get a sticker. If he gets five (choose a number that suits you) stickers, he will get a small reward (a chocolate/ new book/ day at the zoo). And if he continues to do so and reaches ten stickers, he will get a bigger reward (the toy he’s been wanting for a while now). To drive the point home, remove a sticker every time he doesn’t pee in the potty/ comes into your bed.

If your child is diligently getting stickers, rest assured he has learnt the skill you wanted him to. You can gradually decrease or stop the rewards… it won’t matter to him now.
Note: The sticker/reward charts do the trick more often than not, however, using them on toddlers who are too small to understand the concept of rewards will be futile. They work best for over three-year-olds.

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PS: Every toddler is different, and understands and learns at his own pace. So what works for one might not work for another. Sadly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all manual for motherhood. Nonetheless, do give these tricks a shot and see how successful you are!

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35 Responses

  1. Great tips! Stickers always work great with my kids 🙂

  2. Great tips Nicole. Have to start using it on my little one

  3. Lovely written and very helpful too.😊

  4. These are great ideas! I have used some of them, like the thinking chair, listening ears, and the sticker chart, for my youngest when he was a toddler/preschooler. I actually worked at his preschool so I was able to take home a lot of ideas that I saw work. It was great to have the support from the teachers and the experience working with youngsters. My youngest is 9 years old now and for the most part, listens. I love the monster spray though. That one is new to me. When my son was that age, I just pretended to fight off the invisible monster myself or put a night light in his room and told him it was a magic light. That only worked for a year though when he realized it wasn’t magic, LOL! These are great tips for any parent of a toddler. Popping over from #coolmumclub

    • Thanks so much for the detailed and appreciative comment:) Would love to hear some more ideas from you (what you did as a mother yourself, and also what you took home from your work). Cheers!

      • My oldest has Autism so I had to do a few very different things but charts worked best for him and having a schedule. My youngest had behavioral issues when he was in preschool so a sticker chart, the thinking chair, and stories that made him the main character really helped. The teachers in his preschool were better with the stories than I was though ( even though I’m a writer I was going to college at the time and had baby brain, lol). Sometimes we would find a story that he just connected with and we used that to help with his behavior. One book that was his absolute favorite was “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really Really Angry”. He often has tantrums so this book was a big help!

        • Hats off to you for being an awesome mum! And working with your children and their special needs. Kudos to you.
          Stories that make them the main character – LOVE THE IDEA! (Did use a version of it when I was prepping Little Man for nursery, reading a book about Bunny’s first day at nursery and making him believe that he was bunny).

      • Yes the bunny book helped to quite an extent

  5. These are really great ideas. Monster spray is great, also thinking corner – brilliant!

  6. I just love the Monster Spray idea.. SO cute and clever! #coolmuclub

    • Glad the post is giving other mums out there fresh ideas:) guess that’s one of the purposes of blogging! Thanks for the comment.#coolmumclub

  7. This is really interesting and definitely things I will bear in mind for the future. Love the monster spray! #coolmumclub

  8. I love the calendar concept….I have used a similar idea by drawing out a week at a time and sticking it on the fridge…with little stick man pics of what we are doing each day (Saturday swimming with nanny and Grandad)…it really helped Tigs understand the concept of days,a nd waiting!
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    • Little Stick Men swimming on your fridge:) Super idea!!! and yes, imp to teach them the concept of ‘waiting’ too.
      Glad to be part of the #coolmumclub family!

  9. Excellent tips!

  10. Love the monster spray! We are still in the baby stages but I will file these away for later.

  11. Oh these are all such great ideas! I especially love the visual calendar that they can read and relate to. Right now we do everything in how many more sleeps. Thanks so much for linking up with #momsterslink. Hope to see you again today!

    • Thank you. Yes these tips are tried and tested:)
      Looking forward to linking up again.. thanks for hosting.

  12. […] last but certainly not the least, tips, recipes, outings and more to share with fellow […]

  13. […] after he tells me something that is oh-so-important. His way of telling me to use my ‘listening ears‘ I suppose! And says ‘I know what I’m doing’ when I tell him to be careful […]

  14. Great advice! I’ll definitely make the monster spray, what a clever concept!

    • Thanks. Yes, I loved the idea too when I first heard bout it. Hope it helps. Thanks for popping over!

  15. I have friends who use “monster spray” and said it worked wonders! And I think the idea of a thinking corner rather than a naughty corner is really great. Plus the listening ears are great too – lots of fab advice which I will be taking on board as I have a 2yo myself. Also, massive congrats because someone liked this post so much, they added it to the #blogcrush linky 🙂

    • Aww thank you so much Lucy, thrilled this post was #blogcrush worthy. And even more thrilled mums are liking it and taking ideas from it:)

  16. Great tips! We’ve just reached the ‘scary’ phase and also monsters, but are so far getting away with wave to the monster and say hello! I so agree with stickers and rewards that’s how we managed to sit in the car seat without 20 minutes of screams! #thelistlinky

    • Wave to the monster and say hello:) That’s cute too! Whatever works, honestly! But yes, stickers are almost always a win-win situation! Thanks for popping over!

  17. I love the ‘Thinking Corner’ – much nicer than ‘naughty’ 🙂 #thelistlinky

    • It’s such a smart (and nicer) term, isn’t it? Has more meaning too…
      Thanks for popping over.

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