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Parenting the Terrible Twos Tips

Parenting the Terrible Twos Tips – The “terrible twos” are associated with a child’s temper tantrums and manipulation – but are the terrible twos a myth?

More important, how can parents use this phase of toddler development as a way to promote a child’s independence moving forward? Or, is there a way to turn the “terrible twos” into “the tremendous twos”?

Dr. Frans Plooij, PHD is the author of The Wonder Weeks, an easy-to-understand guide to children’s mental and physical growth phases. I had a chance to interview Dr. Plooij to learn some parenting the terrible twos tips.

Parenting the Terrible Twos Tips

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms dot com – Kids have such different personalities, and many parents claim that their child just has that type of personality. Is it possible that some kids are pre-dispositioned for this type of behavior?

Dr. Frans Plooij, PHD, author of The Wonder Weeks – Claiming a certain type of personality and assuming predispositioning are just a lame excuse for not doing anything and looking the other way. On page 362 of the book the Wonder Weeks concerning the leap into the World of Principles around the age of 15 months one can read about learning the rules:
“Whining and whimpering to get one’s way, childish behavior like constantly needing to be entertained and always wanting a pacifier, being messy without any cause, not being careful and expressly hurting others, going out of the way to be bad – you probably wonder if you’re the only one that is having such trouble with your little one’s behavior. No, certainly not. Your toddler is no longer a baby. Time has come to lay down some ground rules. Your toddler is ready for you to start asking and expecting more from her. What’s more: she is searching for these boundaries. Now that she has entered the world of principles, she yearns for rules. She is looking for chances to familiarize herself with them. Just as she must satisfy her appetite by eating, so too she must satisfy this yearning for rules. Most rules she will only discover if they are presented to her by you. Social rules in particular are important. You must show her what is acceptable and what is not acceptable socially. There is no harm in laying down the law. On the contrary, you owe it to her, and who better to do so than someone who loves her?”

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms dot com – What is the biggest mistake you see parents make that actually encourages the terrible twos instead of parenting the terrible twos?

Dr. Frans Plooij, PHD, author of The Wonder Weeks – Not laying down the law and being too permissive from 15 months onwards.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms dot com – What is actually happening when a child goes through this phase? Is it a matter of “pushing Mommy’s buttons” or is there a bigger meaning/message?

Dr. Frans Plooij, PHD, author of The Wonder Weeks: The bigger picture behind “pushing Mommy’s buttons” is the fact that your toddler is entering the world of principles around 15 months and the world of systems around 17 months. Around 15 months your toddlers starts to yearn for rules and around 17 months he starts to develop (among other things) a notion of self and a conscience or, in other words, a system of rules. This can be observed in daily life in a rich variety of behaviors and interactions. These are described in chapters 11 and 12 in the book the Wonder Weeks. On page 442 one can read: “Concepts at the systems and principle level are more easily formed than that they are changed. Children learn them by observing their surroundings and then start to use them themselves. Sometimes adults place emphasis on certain system concepts. This is a textbook example of socialization and upbringing.”

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms dot com – What can parents do before, during, and after these episodes to improve the situation?

Dr. Frans Plooij, PHD, author of The Wonder Weeks – Before the ninth and tenth leaps give your baby a basic feeling state of safety and a warm attachment. Small babies cannot be spoiled and safely attached children tend to listen better to their parents.

During the difficult phases be supportive and understanding, knowing it has a reason and it will pass.


After the difficult phase of the tenth leap (a good 18 months) most toddlers become a little less troublesome than they were, although their budding notion of self and a tendency to want get their own way and the struggle for power are not making it any easier. However, those behaviors make them troublesome in a different way. They are not difficult in the sense of the three C’s: CRYING, CLINGINESS and CRANKINESS. They are occasionally just plain irritating. The trick is to place yourself above it all. Stop and count to ten, remember that your little darling is progressing and do your best to manage the situation. After all, this is a very good opportunity to phase in some rules of conduct for your toddler so he learns that the world doesn’t revolve around him, and that he must take others into account as well.

drplooij620x350ABOUT DR. FRANS PLOOIJ
Dr. Frans Plooij P.HD is a leading expert on infant mental development and the author of the bestseller The Wonder Weeks. The Wonder Weeks describes your baby’s mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward. It describes in easy-to-understand terms the incredible developmental changes and regression periods that all babies go through during the first 20 months of their lives. The Wonder Weeks is available online in hard copy as well as in eBook.

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