Thursday, October 22, 2015

Terrible Two's : We Meet Again

When your first child is born, things are so simple, so sweet, so idealistic.  And aren't we lucky that they break us in easy with sleepless nights, diaper changes and round the clock feedings - if babies were born with the same abilities as toddlers there would be a lot less people having children.  When you set a baby down to go answer the phone or use the bathroom, you come back and they are right were you left them.  When you set a toddler down to do the same, you come back to shoes in the sink, yogurt smeared all over the table and in the hair, and a half dressed child standing in the middle of the kitchen table.  Now I'm no pro at it but, this will be my third go-round with the "Terrible Twos" and you'd think I'd have a better handle on things by now, but quite honestly, I don't.  It is what it is.

Today marks the second birthday of our third child.  Our precious little baby who was so content, so happy and so easy going is now a two year old who constantly makes messes, is quick to shake her finger, give orders and and cries easily when she doesn't get her way.  I can see there are a lot of reasons why the term "Terrible Twos" came to be but I'm here to tell you, to beg you, to see the rest of the picture!  There is so, so much going on and changing at this age that if you're so wrapped up in seeing the terrible in it, that you'll miss all the TERRIFFIC TWOs moments.

2 Year Olds are Notorious for:
More Tantrums
Mess Making
And More!

Lets start with the Tantrums; the most famous of all the two year old mis-behaviors.  Why did the toddler throw a tantrum?  Because she didn't get her way (insert: her toy, her favorite shoes, her friend's toy, gum at the cash register) or because she felt she was treated unfairly.  Do adults throw tantrums?  Yes, from time to time, especially if they don't get their way (insert: if someone cuts them off on the road, cuts in line at the deli counter, their favorite team looses) or because they feel as though they have been mistreated.

Crying.  Sometimes it's warranted; sometimes it's not, most of the time it's to get attention.  There are some children that can cry so loud you think you're ears will bleed; they're really good at getting attention; everyone's attention.  Some kiddos get a gentle bump on the head and follow it with fake crying just to get a mother's soothing kiss, all for some sweet and simple attention.  As adults do that too, don't we?  We seek attention. Abrasive social media posts, selfies, shiny cars, new gadgets, expensive gifts, the list goes on.

Have you been Frustrated lately?  With a co-worker, a car that won't run well, a cable company that over charges and under performs, an order that was messed up, a hair cut gone wrong?  Frustrating, isn't it.  Well, 2 year olds get frustrated too; because they can't get their shoes on them selves, or because they can't reach the cup off the counter, or because the page in the book keeps flipping backwards on them.  Recently, from the back seat of the car I heard our almost two year old shouting with disgust, while trying to velcro her shoes, "Come on, Sunday shoes!"  The struggle is real.

Hitting and Throwing come from frustration.  I think it is a fairly natural behavior in small children, but one that needs to be extinguished.  Alleviate the frustration when possible and punish the hitting or throwing behavior when necessary.

Our littlest one is the master of Mess Making.  I was cutting out foam Minnie Mouse heads the other day to make into decorations for HER birthday and she was standing right next to me ripping their ears off!  How can they be right in front of you and yet so sneaky!  I can't tell you how many times she has painted the table, her hair, her clothes, her face or the floor with yogurt.  She loves to mess make; I'm hoping this love for sensory exploration works it's way into creativity and craftiness as she gets older.

Our second child was exceptional at Climbing.  There were at least 2 consecutive months where I kept all of the dining room chairs in our bedroom during the day so at least I knew he couldn't get on top of the table.  This kid could climb the slide when he was 9 months old.  Today he as excellent gross motor skills and incredible balance.  The only trick here is to try to keep them safe while they explore.

Toddlers have an awesome arsenal of tools at their disposal and only with age and training do they refine them into useful adult qualities.  My point here is that all of these "terrible twos" qualities are really things that develop into real life skills; they are teachable moments. Take the time to impress on your child what behaviors are appropriate when, offer reinforcement and punishment, lead by example, explore and have fun.  They're only little for a little while.

And don't forget to soak up the little things.  The little things like when she wraps her doll in a blanket and bounces and shushes her.  The little things like when he first uses the toilet standing up.  The little things like when she says "Thank you, Mama."  The little things like when he got his shoes on all by himself, even if they are on backwards.  The little things like when your eyes meet and they say "I love you."  It's the little things that make life grand (even the 2 year old little things).

So does the big question still remain; are the two's really terrible?  I guess that's just a matter of perspective.

Happy 2nd Birthday Sweet Girl!
We're looking forward to a terrific year!

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

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