I’m in a few mom groups on Facebook. Women share there their experiences, vent, share happy moments, ask for advice and so on. One of the most frequently problems is so called terrible twos. Mothers say that they don’t know how to handle their kid that before was so nice and obedient and suddenly he became a “devil”, can’t be controlled, does whatever wants and doesn’t listen. They put the blame of all that on the age because everyone knows that children at the age of two, sometimes earlier, go through this time and that’s all. It’s just the age and parents need to start punishing, putting standards and opinions on their children, and more. I started getting irritated by posts like this so I’m here now to say clear and loud:
“TERRIBLE TWOS” DOESN’T EXIST!
It seems to me like parents get used to the fact that their baby for a while after being born is totally dependent on them. At the beginning a baby can’t do anything and any needs are communicated by a cry. This keeps changing with time, smiles start appearing, reaching for things but in general wherever you put your baby he’ll stay there, nothing will bother him, he can stare at a lamp and will be happy.
Everything gets complicated when this easy to maintain and calm baby starts being more independent. Her own opinions, beliefs and other come into play, she starts having other needs that will be different than “drink, poop, sleep” and will be different than parents’ needs at the time. She becomes more curious, she opens cabinets and plays with pans, throw food on the floor and is very amused about it. This is the way kids learn the world! At the same time, she gets upset when she’s happily playing with a phone and suddenly someone takes it away from her. She’s upset when she’s not too sleepy and parents try to force her to stay in her crib in the dark room by herself where she can’t get out of by herself. She’s amused by the sound she hears while hitting her mother in the head with the phone she likes playing with and then she gets shocked and scared when her mother hits her in her hand and puts her to a time out. I could give you many more examples like this. Parents want to control their children in all the possible ways. Starting with the time children go to bed, often with the time they get up. Through when, what and how much they’ll eat ending on what they’ll play with and how long. I totally don’t understand why so many people are then surprised when a child protests? She has her own needs and more of her own opinions and she realizes that she doesn’t have to do whatever her parents want her to. And what’s more, she doesn’t even have to do it.
Children don’t mess with you! They don’t do anything just to make you mad, they don’t manipulate you in any way. They don’t think “oh, yesterday she didn’t give me what I wanted to I’ll show her today”, their brains don’t work this way yet and this actually would never happen if not a specific reason but this is a different subject. They do all that because they don’t know any better. They don’t know that if they grab this awesomely shiny scissors by its blades they’ll bleed and it’ll hurt or that if they hit their mom in her head with this awesome wooden block it will not only make a sound (because it has little bells inside) but also the mother will be hurt. They don’t throw food on the floor to make parents be more busy but because it’s cool, they like the sounds when food hits the floor and it has funny shapes.
And it’s the same thing when they want something. At this very moment a boy might want to play with a toy which is somewhere up high and he can’t reach and his mother doesn’t pay attention. On a girl who prefers to eat an orange that’s on the table but her father pushes potatoes in her that she doesn’t like.
I’ve said is so many times but I’ll repeat again – we see children’s problems as something trivial but they’re big problems for them. Especially for little ones who aren’t able to handle their emotions they way they’ll be able to do it several years later (at least I’d like them to but it’s hard these days). They’re not able to call their feelings and emotions and especially when they can’t talk yet. I often see a child in a store grabbing something and looking at it from all the sides being very curious and happy at the same time and then their parent taking it away with no word or even being angry. This child starts crying or screaming and the parent gets upset and tell him to be quiet. And the kid’s reaction is so adequate in this situation. I can’t imagine a two year old being calm and saying: “mom, I was playing with it and you took it away, I’m very confused and sad”. It’s as if someone was going to a car holding keys and a stranger would come and took the keys away. Sorry you guys but nobody would be happy about it.
Since a while ago I noticed this specific kind of behavior in April and I see it more and more each day. She protests when she doesn’t like something. When someone holds her and she point somewhere and this person goes somewhere else, she starts trying to get away from the arms, even on a parking lot. She cries when I take a big fork away from her because she doesn’t understand that she can hurt herself even though I tell her that. I never do anything like that just because, I always explain why. I tell her that this knife is sharp and dangerous and cars aren’t safe because drivers can’t see her and they might hit her which will really hurt. When April gets upset I tell her that I see she’s not happy and getting upset. The same when she’s happy. Recently she really wanted to take a green ball out of the container in a store but it was too tall and she wasn’t able to do so. When I gave her this ball she was so happy so I told her that I saw she was happy that she got the ball she wanted. There’s so many different ways to handle all that and I told you about it a while ago. Yelling, punishing, threatening and other things like that are totally unnecessary and bring more damage than benefits (and here’s the time when kids start refusing food or when he starts being afraid of his parents and there’s no room for love where’s fear).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should let them do anything and be okay with your baby playing with knives, no. What I’m saying is that children aren’t parents’ maids and they don’t have to fulfill all demands that parents might have, they don’t have to do everything their parents say. Children are people too but much smaller. They have feelings, needs and they can want something too. You can have your opinion and protect it, they can do the same! The difference is that they’re still dependent on you in so many ways, especially when they can’t talk yet and people use it. This is the time when it’s very easy to ruin a good relationship for many years, sometimes forever. And I sometimes have bad days too when April is whiny, grabs my legs, wants something and I don’t know what she means. I try giving her food and she doesn’t want any. She doesn’t want to drink, her diaper is clear, she doesn’t want me to pick her up and to go outside either. After I while it turns out she wanted me to give her keys that I had in my pocket but I got irritated inside. And I sometimes say, April, I don’t know what you want, I’m frustrated and want some quiet time. At the same time I keep repeating to myself in my head that she always does the best she can, she tries to communicate to me that she needs something in the best way she can. And this helps.
I know that this isn’t easy, I do realize that. However, I ask you, parents, to have more trust for your children because this is what will contribute to your happiness.
I’ll see you next time,