Ugh! The Terrible Twos!! They really start around 18m and they tend to creep up about every 6m for several years! Then it tends to alternate years until the tween years. There is a very good reason for this and I'll share some tips to make is less terrible.
Starting at 18m the child's brain goes through a growth spurt. Millions of brain connections are made in the early years of life, but around 18m of age, the child starts to see himself as a separate being from his/her parents. He starts to realize he is in control of his own body. He can start making choices. He can say “NO!” to requests. Your child may develop fears, things that never used to bother her now send her crying, running or screaming. This is because she can now think about what might happen. Logic is still out of reach, but they can still think about things in a more complex what than they could before. These growth spurts happen often throughout childhood. During these times, you may feel as if your child is regressing in some areas. This is normal. Part of the reason is that the new abilities are a bit daunting and the old ways are more comfortable. Also, it takes a lot of energy for the brain connections to happen in spurts so there is not as much mental energy to control emotions or deal with things in the same way the child could previously.
Toddlers are learning about rules and it is important that they have an opportunity to test those rules and limits. I know it can be very frustrating that they test the same limits over and over, but if you can remain consistent and the rules are pretty much the same everywhere they won't test them for so long. They will go into a phase of acceptance for certain rules. Soon they will test the rules again but remain consistent and the testing phase will be shorter. I like to think of it like this if you get a ticket every time you speed you won't speed but a few times. Since you probably only get a speeding ticket a small fraction of the times you go over the speed limit, you push it, some push it more than others, some know where they are likely to get caught and try harder not to speed in those areas, but when they feel confident that they will not be caught, they speed. Kids are much the same way. We need to teach them from a young age how to make good choices on their own. Punishments will not teach skills. It is a long process and toddlers don't really understand why we do certain things but they are capable of simple explanations. Keeping calm and teaching them the right thing to do will help them make the right decisions when you aren't there watching them.
Please remember that toddlers are not manipulating you. It takes a lot of cunning to manipulate someone and a toddler does not have that kind of ability. They are learning simple cause and effect (like that light switches turn on lights). They CANNOT make plans to terrorize your day. Remember that their behavior is a reflection of how they are feeling. If their behavior is “bad” it is often because they are having a hard time. They are not able to meet the demands placed on them in that moment. They have a very limited skill set and just because they can handle something one day it doesn't mean they have mastered that skill, or can't just have a bad day. Just like there are days that we are more patient and understanding, toddlers have their days too. Showing empathy will help them calm down faster and diffuse the situation so much better than stricter punishments or you loosing your cool. We all have bad moments and lose it from time to time. Apologize and forgive yourself, kids are awesome at forgiving and forgetting. Repair the damage by hugging, rocking, reading a book, or just sharing a few moments together playing and laughing.
I was given a book at a baby shower for my first and it is the closest you can get to a manual for the first 3 years! Check out this book, it has great tips and explains all the normal crazy things that babies and toddlers do!
For more tips on surviving toddlerhood, check out this post https://wp.me/p8HtYm-5m