By Rosemary Strembicki, LCSW of A Place to turn to
Two weeks with a two-year-old and I’ve learned lessons that I never learned in school or from the 20 years I’ve spent working with families. It’s easy to give advice until you find yourself in the trenches with a determined, impulsive two-year-old.
I don’t have time to wax poetic since she’s scheduled to wake up in the next 30 minutes, so here’s what I’ve learned:
- Provide a framework – let her know the limits and what the consequence will be if they’re crossed. Make the consequences logical and just something to get her attention like, “If you can’t lie quietly with me you’ll have to nap in your crib.”
- Control your anger – once you lose your temper you’ve lost the battle. Stay calm and follow through.
- Be patient – sometimes it takes a few minutes to process the information that you’re trying to send.
- Keep words to a minimum – long explanations just don’t compute.
- Give choices – instead of “It’s time for bed,” try “Do you want to brush your teeth or read a story first?”
- Maintain your sense of humor – there’s always something you can laugh about when interacting with a two-year-old, find it and make it a joke. She’ll get it and it’ll break the tension.
- Watch and listen – paying attention to what she’s doing will give you clues to what she’s thinking. Describe her actions and see what kind of response you get.
- Give warnings before transitions – a two minute warning before leaving the playground, getting ready for bed or some other undesirable activity can mean the difference between a happy ending or full-out tantrum.
- Provide incentives – when the going gets tough break the action with the promise of something desired (no, it’s not bribery). It’s amazing what can get done if there’s a video at the other end.
- Squeeze in a nap whenever you can – enough said.
My time is up; she’s starting to stir.
I’ll be home in a week, exhausted and missing her like crazy.
About the Author
Rosemary Strembicki, LCSW, is a consultant to parents, schools, teachers and organizations on the emotional development of children as well as a practicing psychotherapist with a focus on parent/child interaction. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Rhode Island in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s of Social Work Degree from Washington University in St. Louis. Rosemary and her husband, Stan have two married daughters and two grandchildren. Rosemary serves as A Place To Turn To’s Clinical Consultant.
A Place To Turn To’s approach: underlying much of A Place To Turn To’s work is the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, an evidence based program that helps identify why some children get involved in high risk behaviors and others thrive. Jan & Rosemary have also incorporated their professional and personal philosophies that every family is unique, parenting is a process, and that there isn’t a one-size-fits all approach that works. A Place To Turn To provides families opportunities to question, learn, explore, and integrate what they feel is important into everyday life. And, they invite individuals and organizations to join them in helping families create the shifts they desire so their children can grow into their personal best.
You may contact her at: (314) 965-0143 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Because kids don’t come with instructions!