Apart from having no interest in sleep, my son is, and always has been, a well-behaved boy. Friends and family continually comment on his sunny nature. But like all two year olds, Luca is always only a blink away from a tantrum.
This is well known phenomenon among parents, called the ‘terrible twos’. I remember I was pre-warned by other mums, ‘enjoy shopping with him now, while you can’. I recall laughing smugly; my angel would never be like those other toddlers, who we all give a wide berth in the aisles of a supermarket.
Parenting is a steep learning curve, but only two years ago I was holding a little, gurgling lump of joy in my arms and, in my naivety, I never thought we’d need to teach our son discipline and the consequences of his actions so soon.
I admit it, I was one of those onlookers to other children raging in the supermarket and I would say to myself, ‘well it’s clearly a lack of discipline from the parents’ ... little did I know or understand until I became a mother.
You see, these displays of attention are a toddler’s way of communicating their frustration at why they aren’t allowed to have something. At two years old they can’t articulate their irritation or indeed understand why they can’t have everything they see.
And in understanding this process I have most definitely learned not to judge others. The fear of the full tantrum in the middle of a public place lurks at every turn, from every toddler.
The best advice I could offer is, routine and structure as often as possible. Believe it or not, toddlers crave routine and adapt well to it – and most importantly, do not give the tantrum the attention it seeks!
We also use the naughty step. Explain why they have been naughty and once they have ‘served their time’, a simple apology (or acknowledgement of understanding) from your child, and a hug, will help to instil discipline without having to throw a tantrum back!