Turning Two And Not Terrible

Breyen turns two this week. Half of me is screaming, “Oh my goodness!!! Why so fast?!”, and the other half is adoring the little man he’s growing into. He is beginning to show some character, his likes and dislikes and he has the most endearing way of comforting the people he loves.

When some people hear that my son is turning two, they respond with, “Ohhh… Terrible Twos…”.

For the record, I really dislike the term “terrible twos”. What is so terrible about your child turning two? Why do you need to label this stage of your child’s life with some negative terms? 

“The terrible twos are a normal stage in a toddler’s development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word “no.” The terrible twos typically occur when toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence. One minute a child might be clinging to mom or dad, and the next he or she is running in the opposite direction,” says www.mayoclinic.org.

It also says, “While the terrible twos can be difficult for parents and caregivers to navigate, keep in mind that 2-year-olds are undergoing major motor, intellectual, social and emotional changes. Their vocabularies are growing, they’re eager to do things on their own, and they’re beginning to discover that they’re expected to follow certain rules. However, most 2-year-olds still aren’t able to move as swiftly as they’d like, clearly communicate their needs or control their feelings. This can lead to frustration and misbehavior — in other words, the terrible twos.”

“A child this age wears her heart on her sleeve — and in her voice, her fists, her stamping feet, and her crocodile tears. You seldom have to guess about a 2-year-old’s emotional state. Expressing emotions is healthy, even when they aren’t happy ones. So don’t feel you have to rush in to placate your child at the first pout or sad sniffle,” says babycenter.com.

“This phase is difficult for parents; it is also hard for children. When children take a stand that opposes their parents, they experience intense emotions. Although they are driven to become their own unique persons, they also long to please their parents. Even now, when I do something that my parents disagree with, I feel very conflicted. I am an adult, living in a different city, with well-thought-out choices — and it is still quite difficult. For a child who is tentatively learning to make choices, who is dependent on his parents for food, shelter, and emotional support, it’s even more intense. Dissolving into tears is an appropriate expression of the inner turmoil that is so real for children who are in the midst of this process,” says drgreene.com. (I secretly love that drgreene prefers a different term than Terrible twos too).

In a nutshell, children at this age are going through a great deal of development, character wise. They are learning to make decisions on their own and they are learning what kind of behaviour is pleasing and displeasing to the most important people in their lives. When they cannot handle the pressure, they break down, AKA throw a tantrum. 

I once shared with someone about what I read, that at two years old, children’s emotions are more developed than they can handle, which results in meltdowns. This person replied, “It’s like an excuse for their behaviour.” No, it is not an excuse. It is the reason behind their behaviour. If a child throws tantrums at the slightest thing at five or six years old, then perhaps I would agree that using the developmental stage would be finding an excuse for bad behaviour.

The thing is, a five or six year old, like my daughter, has better abilities to reason and to understand the consequences of her actions than Breyen, who is turning two. I’m not saying though, that I will condone Breyen’s tantrums and meltdowns. Shaping his character and his ability to understand what behaviour is desirable starts now, and with constant reminder, he will eventually, like his sister, understand that he won’t get his ways just because he throws a tantrum.

Besides, at the age of two, children are growing out of being a baby, where they are helpless and need to depend on people around them for everything and anything. I would be worried if Breyen was still behaving like a baby, crying only for milk or for cleaning and not showing any sign of learning to be independent. 

In fact, if you think about it, us grownups show our disagreement and displeasure when we do not get things our way too. Perhaps not by throwing a tantrum (maybe some grownups do) or by crying nonstop (also, maybe some grownups do), but we do show our unhappiness when things do not go the way we want. The difference is that as grownups, we have, or most of us have, mastered the ability to control our emotions and show it at selected times and in (hopefully) an appropriate manner. After all, we did have many years of practice. The two year old is just starting on this “training process”, so there is really no need to call him “terrible”.

I love that this little darling is beginning to show us who he is. He is a huggable bear who never fails to comfort his sister when he sees her cry. He likes to feed himself and gets angry when he is not allowed to. He doesn’t like certain people getting too close to him, and he is still learning the correct meaning of the word “no”. 

I may have started to put him in the thinking/naughty corner, but I do not find him terrible. He’s almost two and he’s trying to figure out the world around him. Happy second birthday, my little darling. I love you to the moon, and back.


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