In this video we’re going to be sharing our experience of respectful parenting in practice, how we’re dealing with the so-called terrible twos. Hi everyone, I’m Kara, this is my husband Thomas and we are parents to 2 year old Ben.
Welcome or welcome back to my channel. First we’re going to have a chat about the inspiration behind our parenting and then we’re going to share our top 10 tips for dealing with the terrible twos or toddler tantrums.
Ben is right in the middle of what is often referred to as the terrible twos. Yeah I think it’s a really really awful name for it and it builds these negative expectations. I’d never heard the term before we had Ben and I thought like ooh it’s going to be a year of doom but it’s the time of his life I’ve enjoyed most so far.
Yeah I think we also put things in place, as a family we’re huge advocates for respectful parenting and it’s a lot of respectful parenting strategies that we’re going to talk about today. When we both became parents we wanted to be very intentional parents and look up what we’re doing, different ways of parenting.
Kara definitely started this and was way more involved and started reading books about it and I after talking to her and liked what she learned became interested as well and read a couple of German books.
So we’re both very involved as parents so it was really important to me that there was a lot of consistency in the approaches that we were using with Ben so he really knew what to expect from us.
And also generally in life I like to approach things from a point of research, knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing so parenting was absolutely no different. I researched pregnancy and birth so much while I was pregnant with them so then researching parenting was just a natural continuation of that for me.
And probably my top recommendation, we will link all our recommendations for books and podcasts and things below in the description box but my top one would be Janet Lansbury. A lot of what we’re going to talk about today was really inspired by a lot of her work.
Um and this book No Bad Kids she also has another one called Elevating Child Care and also she has a podcast called Unruffled which really is fantastic. And when Kara said she’s kind of the research, look everything up you can before you do something, I’m definitely more the wing it type of guy, and that’s also how I started parenting because um Kara started reading books probably when Ben was like three months old more and then it took me another three months before I started reading some books.
But the question for me was at some point I asked myself why am I parenting the way that I am parenting? And I think mostly it just stems from how you were raised as a child and then you look at are there any alternatives.
So why my parents done and why did I turn out the way I am and are there maybe some things that I would like to be different about my child? And I still think the single most thing, I think I turned out all right, I think my parents did a really good job.
And the most important thing is that they love and care but there’s been so much study and so much things my parents didn’t even know when they were raising me that you now have access to and yeah I just found it fascinating and I think there’s so much to learn from once you start looking into and you do things for the reason and with intention, with intention yeah.
So let’s move on to our tips for respectful parenting and practice and how we use this to deal with the terrible twos. So this is defined as the period of a young child’s life which is marked by tantrums, defiant behaviour and lots of frustration.
So for me probably the biggest tip, the thing that has stood out for me most through all the readings is to allow all feelings but not all behaviours. So the idea when a toddler has a tantrum is that there’s a lot of feeling behind that.
It could be me telling Ben for example that he’s not allowed something which then he has big feelings about and that’s okay. If he is going to have a tantrum then we let him have a tantrum, we also acknowledge that he’s feeling the way he is.
So we might say okay I can see you’re really upset that you’re not allowed that just now and but we just let the tantrum run its course. For me that also meant dealing with fear that Ben has.
So we have some dogs in the family and I personally I love dogs. Ben was quite scared of them because some of the dogs are quite big and he was very reluctant to go close to them and originally, I think before thinking about it, I would have said ah Ben don’t worry about it, it’s just there’s no reason to be afraid come on and like try to encourage him more and almost like push him but I think the the right way was definitely to to acknowledge that he’s afraid of that and saying oh I can see dog makes you a little bit nervous or it’s a really big dog and you’re a little bit scared of it if it moves, if it comes too close and then over time he has developed a love for dogs and he’s now going up to dogs and chasing them around the park and wants to clap every dog but it just took time.
And allowing that feeling of first being a bit nervous about them and then coming out of it. So it’s completely natural for toddlers to have these big feelings, it’s the first time they’re experiencing frustration, disappointment but what maybe seems like not a big deal to you is obviously a big deal to them and that’s okay.
So the second part of that point is to not allow all behaviours which kind of leads on to our second tip and that is to hold the boundaries that are important to you. So you can let them feel however they want to feel about something but that doesn’t mean you’re going to let them do something that you think is inappropriate or indeed something that you just don’t want to happen.
For example Thomas, for Thomas it’s really important that Ben behaves in a certain way at the dinner table. Yeah yes definitely, and I think one example that’s important to me is that Ben just sits throughout the whole meal and eats and doesn’t climb up and down the whole time and we definitely, we give him a warning so we said Ben, when he starts climbing down, are you sure you’re finished? If you climb down then I’m going to put your food away.
And at the start he definitely climbed down and then he came back and was like oh where’s my food. Its like oh you told me, you showed me that you’re finished and we’ve put we put it away and but it happened maybe twice.
Yeah maybe even once. Yeah now he really sits through and he learned it and maybe it’s stubborn, for like lots of parents would say it’s stubborn for me to like be so insistent about that point, but it’s something that is really important to me.
Ultimately it makes our family meal times really nice, that we can sit down as a family and eat dinner as well. So my third tip is again related to feelings and that is don’t distract them from their feelings.
Now I know this has kind of gone back a bit but it’s really hard to make this linear because they’re all so interconnected. So I think that what I wanted to do naturally, as a parent, if Ben was upset was to try and distract him out of that.
So trying to make him play with something or see something yeah. But it kind of distracts him from how he’s feeling and actually from the point of view of mental health, I think it’s really important that he learns to feel sad and know that that’s only going to last a short period of time and he’s going to come out the other way without the need for distraction, to actually be in the moment and and feel the feelings even if they’re negative.
I also think it really helps them to identify feelings. So if you don’t take the time, if he’s screaming because I’ve taken away the food because he showed me that he’s finished and then to take the time to talk to him, ‘oh I know are you a bit frustrated because you wanted to eat more’ and not just go like ‘oh look at this it’s a tiny shiny sheep’ you talk about why he’s feeling upset and that it’s frustration and that he wanted more but he’s not getting it and then I think later on he can also name things because I’m like ‘I’m feeling a bit sad’ or ‘I’m a bit exhausted’ or ‘I’m really frustrated because this and this happens’.
And if you never allow that speech to like talk about why they’re crying then they’re not going to learn it. But a good thing to know is maybe not to talk about why they’re feeling the way they are when they’re mid tantrum because that’s not a good time to reason with them, but it’s definitely a time once they’ve kind of calmed down to reflect on why they were feeling the way they were.
The next tip is to be a safe space for children to express all of these big feelings. By that I mean that you are being calm as much as possible and that is so hard in these types of situations but the more that you get angry or are reacting to those feelings, the less they’re going to feel it’s okay for them to have those feelings and to be able to let them out and actually you being a safe space for them to vent those feelings is something that certainly I want Ben to be able to do throughout his whole life so that he knows that if he’s feeling down, he can come to me and this this house, we as parents, are safe place for him to do that.
And I think out of all of this is definitely the hardest thing to always, and I don’t manage to always be calm, but I have a good example. Uh when I went to the opticians last time in the hospital with Ben, and he seems to have some really negative associations, so we didn’t even make it up to the receptionist and he just started screaming and screaming and wanted out and there’s a natural instinct for me to say like ‘Ben like calm down, nothing has happened, like this is completely irrational, just stop streaming’ uh but it wouldn’t help and it’s just gonna make the situation actually worse if you then are angry at him for being, because, but really I don’t know what triggered it but at the end he’s just afraid of something and so you just need to sit down and just take it and I know it’s really hard and he eventually calmed down but it took a long time and there were a lot of stares but.
.. So then my next tip would be to try and understand why they are behaving or feeling the way that they are. So are they over tired? Are they hungry? Are they over stimulated by being in a new environment? And this really helps you then to be able to deal with it.
So a good example this afternoon we were at a friend’s house and you could start to see that Ben was having a little bit more of a tantrum or a bit more of a reaction to things that were happening around him and you could tell that he just needed a sleep.
He was really really active and and so we just decided to remove him from that situation and go home so they could have a sleep on the way home in the car. And I think sometimes it’s easier because it’s tiredness uh hunger fear and they’re the you see them easier, but which I never thought about that like things when Kara first started going back to work, where he had his first sleepover at his nannie’s and it was really big things for them and just for three four days he was definitely a bit off and more crying and ‘tantrumey’ and you would think of ‘nothing happened today’ but it’s something that happened two, three days and it just takes him some time to work through that event.
Yeah he’s just feeling a bit disregulated and just needs you to be a little bit more patient. So I’ve talked lots about a child’s feelings but actually feelings as a parent really come into it as well.
So my next step is really to manage your own feelings and expectations. By managing your own feelings I talked earlier about trying to stay as calm as possible because I also feel that when you’re getting really worked up you’re almost putting the child in control of the situation because they are able to affect your mood and they see that as well that they’re pushing your buttons and that also makes them more likely to to do in the future because they know that they’re going to get a reaction from you.
But it’s also about the expectations you have for your child’s behaviour and what you feel is developmentally appropriate. We absolutely do expect Ben to sit at the dinner table for 10-15 minutes and eat his dinner when it’s ready but we don’t expect him to sit for two hours in a restaurant with nothing to entertain him.
The next tip is probably one of the most practical and effective ones to get cooperation from your toddler and that’s simply to give choices. So an example of that is that if Ben does not want to get ready to go to bed, we might say to him ‘okay do you want to get your pyjamas on and then brush your teeth or do you want to brush teeth first and then put your pyjamas on?’ So you’re actually giving them an element of choice, they feel like they’re more in control but ultimately they’re cooperating with what you want them to do.
Another example is for me it’s really important when it’s sunny that we go outside at least once a day and sometimes Ben just wants to stay in the house or they refuse to go out when you just ask him ‘oh Ben should we go outside?’ so I normally just say ‘Ben do you want to go outside in the morning and play in the park or do you want to go out after your nap in the afternoon?’ and then he can choose, he normally chooses the afternoon because it’s further away but by the time the nap is over and we go outside there’s much less resistance in going outside than if you just ask them ‘okay Ben we’re going outside now let’s go’.
Of course it doesn’t always work but this single strategy has definitely made our lives much easier. My next tip is to give natural consequences that make sense for behaviours that you don’t want your child to do, instead of maybe what would be considered as conventional punishments like maybe timeout or smacking your child.
Earlier I gave the example of Ben at meal times, that if he was getting down then we’d take his meal away because he’s showing us that he’s finished. Equally, for example, Ben went through a stage of pulling my hair and if I was holding him and he did that I would put him down.
That’s a consequence that he can link with what he’s done, whereas going in a timeout is so abstract because it’s not in any way linked and we can’t imagine that a two-year-old’s going to sit on a step or naughty step and think about what they’ve done and why that was wrong.
I think what’s also important, what kind of makes the difference between a punishment and the consequence that it’s for them it’s expected. So he might pull Kara’s hair and Kara says like ‘oh Ben that really hurts, if you’re going to do that again I’m going to help you and stop you by putting you down’ and then he knows okay I’ll do it again, he gets put down.
It doesn’t come out of nowhere he doesn’t do anything it’s like ‘ow, into the corner’. And obviously the situation there would be different if for example he had hit another child there wouldn’t be the warning element there, I would just lift him up and completely remove him from the situation.
My second last tip is just through all of this to really come to parenting from a place of respect and treat your child like a valued member of the family and almost like you would another adult.
For example when they have those big feelings, treat them like you would another adult and acknowledge those feelings. I think for me that also means giving them an explanation of why you’re maybe not letting them do something instead of just saying like ‘no, why not, because I said so’.
You can even, if it’s a simple reason like ‘oh because Ben that is something that’s really important to me’, or something trivial like ‘Ben if you’re gonna throw the glass it will break and I don’t want it to break’.
I would also add there listening to their input, for example when they give suggestions or ideas and really making them feel like a valued member of your family. And my tenth and final tip is something that if you have been watching my channel for a while, you will know I am exceptionally passionate about and that is to support language development.
So I honestly think that a huge reason that we don’t have a lot of tantrums from Ben is that he’s able to really well articulate what he wants um and that frustration of not being able to communicate just isn’t there.
Because sometimes it’s not always easy to see or where the frustration comes from. Or yesterday it was just the sheep had to go under the pillow at the exact same place and he got really frustrated because it wouldn’t stay still there and it was just like ‘I want the sheep to be there’ and then you’re like ‘okay we can fix this, easy’.
I have made a lot of videos on this channel on how we support language development and lots of the activities that we do with him in order to do that because Ben is growing up in a bilingual household and so I will link the playlist above and also a lot of the individual videos below in the description box for you in case that’s something that you want to see more of too.
So of course we as parents are far from perfect. Ben still has tantrums but I do feel that that these strategies and reading and following a lot of the things that I’ve linked below for you have led us to really enjoy spending time with our two-year-old.
Also those tantrums tend to be over very quickly like from 30 seconds to a minute because Ben knows how we’re dealing with them and our life as a family is pretty peaceful especially going through this terrible two phase because of them.
Also worth mentioning, none of the things we’ve talked about today are like our original ideas, they’ve all just been picked together from other parents, podcasts, books and our mix of tools and strategies to to create a positive cooperative environment where we feel we both parents and toddler pull in the same direction, instead of opposite ones and then are like against each other.
And are happy! Yeah! So Thomas and I do occasionally have these sit down videos where we just chat all things parenting so if it’s something that you’ve enjoyed please do think about hitting the subscribe button below I also do post every week about being a toddler parent.
I’d also love to hear from you, if you have any advice, any things that really worked for you please leave them below in the comments so that we can share those with other parents too. And who actually knows if there was ten tips or twelve already? Thank you so much for watching and I hope you’ll join me again soon.