Your child has now entered their third year of life and has officially begun the ‘terrible twos’, but don’t worry; there’s a lot more to this phase than mere tantrums!
Is the ‘terrible twos’ really a thing?
It’s all a matter of perspective. Your child will have tantrums and, yes, this is typical. It is all part of development as your child tests boundaries and begins to explore, understand and regulate his emotions.
It can be helpful to remember that although your child is developing language skills, he doesn’t yet have enough vocabulary or capacity to give voice to his many complex emotions, including frustration and anger. It is little wonder that he is given to the odd explosion (or thousand) under these circumstances.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice for parents in this situation is not to overreact – don’t meet fire with fire. The more attention you give the tantrum and the more adrenalised it makes you feel, the more helpless your child will feel and you will become trapped in a tiring cycle in which he feels like he has all the power yet no comprehension of what to do with it.
Distraction remains one of the best ways we have to try and overcome these tantrums. There is nothing wrong with simply taking the heat out of a bad situation; your child doesn’t have to, and is in fact incapable of, coming to an intellectual and moral understanding of why having a tantrum is wrong.
Should my child be speaking in full sentences?
It depends what you mean by “full sentences”. By the time your child is two, he will likely be speaking in two to three-word sentences and using words like “there”, “you”, “me” and perhaps some perennial toddler favourites such as “shoes”, “spoon” and “ball”.
By the time he is three, these sentences will be three or four words longer and will reflect his growing vocabulary and verbal dexterity. He will also become more conversational in his approach, stopping to listen and maybe even waiting for his turn to speak.
His conversation will also become more informative. It will bring you great joy to hear him talk about his day at nursery or to recount something funny that happened between him and grandma while you were out.
Should my child be out of nappies?
For most children, the twelve months spanning 2-3 will be the time they show their readiness to leave nappies behind and start using the toilet or potty.
However, some children will find comfort in their nappy and will look to return to nappies even after they have demonstrated their ability to apparently move on. Whatever the case, don’t feel pressure. Allow your child to progress at his own pace. His greatest anxiety is likely to be about getting it wrong, and if he feels that he is not performing to expectations, this will likely only stall his progress. In fact, sometimes it may be best to postpone potty training until a later date. This allows you take the pressure off and start afresh. It will happen.
How much sleep is the right amount?
Although there is some individual variation in the amount of sleep needed at this age, 11 hours during the night supplemented by two during the day represents a good general rule. If your child has too little sleep, he risks becoming tired, frustrated and less developmentally on-track as he might be.
Sometime at the midpoint of the 2-3 year phase is likely to be a good time to try transitioning your child from a cot to a bed, but getting him to stay there and to sleep well can be a challenge that will require patience, discipline and understanding on your part.
Is my child eating the right foods?
A two-year-old eats up to half of a normal-sized adult portion, although this is more likely to be around one-quarter to one-third of what you eat.
You may notice that your child becomes a bit fussier about what he eats once he reaches two. At this age they begin to show a real preference for the familiar. This can be frustrating but the best you can do is to continue to serve your child a healthy varied died in the hope that enough of it will go down. Just be sure not to turn mealtimes into a battleground as this can have lasting consequences. The more relaxed mealtimes are, the better it is for everyone in the long-run.
What should I be concerned about?
Each child runs their own race and often there is nothing to be concerned about if yours does not hit all the developmental milestones within the typical ranges. However, it is always worth talking about anything that is worrying you or you think might be wrong. As a general guide, if your child reaches three-years-old and falls into any of the following categories, it may be worth speaking with your GP.
- Inability to recognise and use a range of vocabulary, even if they do not always speak clearly.
- Is not having fewer and less intense tantrums when frustrated.
- Is unable to run without falling over.
- Does not seem to play imaginative games.
Find out more about what to expect when your child reaches age 3.