Written by Feba Maryann 

If you have kids between 18 to 30 months of age, you’re probably living in a world of angry outbursts, tantrums and incomprehensible arguments. Life can get pretty frustrating when a simple “NO” is followed by a 10-minute hunger strike.  

What’s Happening During This Stage? 

Your child changing from an all-smiling baby to a defiant toddler can be exasperating for many parents. It’s completely normal for your cute little baby to turn irrational and angry during this age. For example, your toddler crying about the colour of the bowl she eats cornflakes off isn’t justified in any way for you. 

From your two-year-old’s perspective, it’s as important as the time you got angry at your husband for buying the wrong dishwashing liquid.  

At 24 months, your child’s brain starts growing very fast. This makes your toddler want to be independent and decide for themselves. So, when you don’t give your child the exact coloured bowl they were asking for, they act up. As they have a very limited outlook of life, they will never be able to understand why you can’t provide them with what they want.  

What Should You Expect? 

Screaming, throwing things, kicking, hunger strikes and balking are all indicators of your baby entering the phase of the terrible twos.  

However, the most terrifying sign of the terrible twos is loud public tantrums. Bringing them to open public spaces like supermarkets and restaurants could turn out to be quite embarrassing.  

You need to understand that your child isn’t a baby anymore, but you can’t treat him like a middle-schooler too. Both ways will only get them more irritated. This phase might seem never-ending, but here are some strategies for some problems you might encounter while your toddler passes through this stage. 

1. Tantrums 

When I go back to reflect on the time my sister’s child had a meltdown because he couldn’t have the candy bar he wanted without eating his veggies, I only remember being extremely petrified because of how violent he got. He started crying and screaming, with tiny comical tears flooding his face, his face turned into the colour of the tomatoes he was supposed to eat. He could barely breathe. 

I suddenly grabbed the bar and gave it to him. In a second, he was all better and was happily munching on the candy bar while his mum shouted at me for giving it to him. 

Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t give in to all the wild desires your child might have.  

Tantrums are caused because your child doesn’t know how to handle the intense and sudden feelings of anger they have. Throwing a tantrum is just their way of letting their emotional flood gates open.  

You just have to learn to ignore these outbursts as long as they aren’t hurting others or themselves. Too much attention or giving in to their demands will only encourage this kind of unruly behaviour.  

Sometimes, your toddler might get triggered by the most unexpected and hilarious reasons, it can get difficult to stop from laughing a bit. Laughing at a tantrum can only make it worse, because to your child, this whole situation is a very serious issue.  

The best option in this situation is to talk about your child’s feelings. Stoop to their level, maintain eye-contact and talk to them in a loving tone as you explain why you can’t give your child what they want.  

2. Fussy eating 

Your toddler’s dietary preferences can change almost every day. They might want to eat only carrots for a whole day and then shift to cucumbers the very next day. So, make them try new flavours and different foods every day to keep their taste palates engaged.  

I must admit, watching ‘Sisters’ or ‘MasterChef Australia’ on TV while you feed your kid can be very tempting. Kids tend to eat better if we feed them while they watch something on their iPads.  

Mealtimes can serve as quality family time. It can be transformed into a time where you eat at the table as a family and talk about the day. Make sure you have at least one dinner as a family. You don’t have to stress on proper table manners now, let them get themselves a little messy. You can always clean up later. Having your family sit down together for a meal which can make your child look forward to it.  

3. Bedtime

Tucking your toddler into their bed might turn out to be a long-drawn-out battle you have every day. Try making a fun, bedtime routine filled with activities reserved only for bedtime so that your child could look forward to it. You could read a book, give them special pyjama sets or have beautiful night lamps to b=keep them interested. Allow them to wind down at their own pace, let them play silently in bed until they feel tired and go to sleep by themselves.  

Positive re-enforcement can go a long way when it comes to disciplining your child. Learn to communicate with them openly. Always let them know that they are loved however big their outbursts might get. If your toddler gets too aggressive and starts to harm themselves or others, you should seek professional help.  

Toddler behaviour can get to your nerves and make you want to pull your hair out, but remember, this is only a temporary phase, there is light at the end of the tunnel.