From interrupting and screaming to tantrums and aggression, MH lets you in on how to deal with these behavioural issues.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
The terrible twos are terrible for a reason – your perfect little angel has learnt some amount of self-expression and it is at this age that your bub is discovering that he is a separate and autonomous human being from mum and dad, ready to explore the great big world around him.
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At this stage, “they will test limits, assert their wants, and as a result have tantrums or emotional breakdowns. Additionally, little tots are not fully able yet to verbalise their feelings or explain why they are feeling the way they are. This can cause further distress and meltdowns,” says Dr Vanessa von Auer, clinical psychologist at VA Psychology Center. “These are all wonderful signs that your toddler is developing as expected and that you get to witness their unique personality blooming,” she adds.
That said, there are of course some types of behaviours that can be problematic and frustrating for parents, and it’s important to know how to deal with them.
Difficult Behavioural Issues
These include, but are not limited to uncontrollable anger, aggressive outbursts, violence towards peers or his self, lying, and attention-seeking behaviours such as constantly interrupting you when you are talking to him or other grown-ups, explains Daniel Koh, psychologist at Insights Mind Center.
Clinically diagnosed behavioural disorders include ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Most of us are familiar with ADHD, having at least heard of it: ADHD is a disorder in which your child is hyperactive and unable to control his or her own impulses. A child with ADHD is often unable to focus, has a short attention span, and a life with him can feel chaotic and overwhelming.
ODD is a lesser known childhood disorder “that is defined by a pattern of hostile, disobedient, and defiant behaviours directed at adults or other authority figures,” as defined by Valley Behavioral Health Clinic in Arkansas. “ODD is also characterised by children displaying angry and irritable moods, as well as argumentative and vindictive behaviours,” the official website explains.
Clinically diagnosed behavioural issues usually get diagnosed when your child is three years old and
above, but in some cases, can be diagnosed as early as 18 to 24 months. According to Dr von Auer,
“It takes a highly qualified and experienced specialist to do so but it is possible to identify issues early.”
If you are worried that your child is behaving in a way that is beyond the norm of occasional breakdowns and tantrums associated with the terrible twos, Dr von Auer’s advice is first to speak with your child’s daycare and nursery teachers and then to a paediatrician. “It is always helpful to gather information from others so that parents can assess whether or not professional assistance is necessary. Parents should not freak out, however. Every toddler’s development is unique and some are faster and some are slower to mature and develop,” she says.
Koh agrees and stresses that parents should not be too quick to jump the gun. “It is important to know that children at this age are rapidly changing. They have limited skills in communication or handling emotions, hence crying, defiance or restlessness can be quite normal ways of coping with transitional moments in life and with separation anxiety or stress. Proper monitoring in all settings and interviewing all caretakers should be carried out to find out more,” he says.
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