By Lila Hope-Simpson via Kings County News
The best strategy for being an effective parent is to educate yourself in basic child development. Understanding ages and stages help set realistic expectations and goals.
For example, here is what you can expect from your two year old. We often hear the term terrible twos. This is because two-year-olds need to assert their independence. Consequently they say “No!” a lot, trying to show you who’s boss.
Expect temper tantrums and frequent meltdowns, often stemming from frustration. These will ease up once they become more verbal, more articulate, more independent and more mobile. At certain stages, a tantrum may be a way of communicating their feelings, so pay attention to what situations instigate such behaviour and try to find preventative measures.
For some children, large crowds or noisy environments may be conducive to tantrums so try to avoid certain scenarios when possible. Your child is not misbehaving with the intent to upset you but is responding to circumstances and feelings and does not have the acquired skills to articulate them.
To a two year old, everything is mine so don’t expect him to voluntarily share his toys. Providing separate toys for each two year old works better so they are not competing for the same toy, although you know as well as I do that a toy being used by another child is way more attractive than the one he already has. Playing alongside another child rather than with another child is what two year olds do best. We call this parallel play.
By ages three and four, children begin to understand the concept of sharing and playing together. Children should still be entitled to have some toys they willingly share with others and some possessions that can be reserved for themselves, which they are not required to share. As adults, we are not expected to share our cars or flat screen TVs. Some items we are willing to share and others we would rather not. It’s the same for children.
Older children still need limits and guidelines but may respond well to more opportunity to have input into some of these family rules and expectations.
Sometimes we have to remember the basic needs of a child that can serve as prevention for misbehaviour. Do not underestimate the need for nutrition and regular meals. A hungry child may be an easily frustrated child. And we all know from first-hand experience that a tired child is more prone to meltdowns and misbehaviour. Remember that a preschooler needs between 10 and 12 hours of sleep at night.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So true. Leave the mall before it gets to the point when everyone’s patience has run out. Use words your child understands. Get down to your child’s level and always give full attention and eye contact. Speak calmly.
Always keep the big picture in mind and look for transitions. If there has been a move to a different house, a new baby, a divorce or death in the family or even guests in your home, you might notice some changes in your child’s behaviour. Children thrive on consistency and routine, and although that is not always possible in real life, try to provide predictability whenever you can. So if you are going through a divorce, for example, you might want to continue sending your child to the same daycare centre for the routine and familiarity in a time of potential turbulence.
Consistency is also important in how you deal with specific behaviours so your child will know what to expect. Being firm but fair works well for all age groups from infants to teens.
Lila Hope-Simpson is the director of the Home & Heart Child Development Centre and Family Day Care Agency in Wolfville.
As a mother of twin tweens in 2011 and an active Girl Scout Troop leader, Cristy realized there was a need to develop bilingual digital content and foster a community facing the challenges of raising kids after first grade. That year she founded and remains co-Publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, to support multicultural parents and mentors with content related to raising Gen Z- tweens & teens ages 7-18. Through the Los Tweens & Teens LIVE events such as Teens & Me – the growing team aims to provide our community with essential resources from chats with therapists to battle anxiety and bullying, to understanding social media and technology.