The Terrible Twos: Are They Of Our Own Creation?

I’m forever thinking to myself that I deserve to be cut some slack.

So what if the dishes haven’t been done? So what if I haven’t got anything sorted for tea? So what if it’s 4pm and I’m wearing my dressing gown?

I try really hard to be the best Mother, Girlfriend, Daughter, Friend I can possibly be, and fulfil as many expectations that people have of me as I can, but sometimes I just don’t feel like putting 100% in – and do you know what? I think that’s reasonable.

However, I’ve recently been thinking about how many expectations I have for George’s behaviour, routine and general mood. He has all the love in the world and we make sure he’s constantly doing enjoyable activities, why would he be naughty? We’ve had the same routine since basically day one, why would he sometimes decide to turn it on its head? He is provided with constant love and attention, why would he ever be unhappy or grumpy? Because, some days he doesn’t want to give 100% either. 

Between the ages of around 18 months to 3 years our little ones go through immense, and constant, changes – be that physically, emotionally or developmentally. Think about it. It’s during this period they are expected to learn to walk, talk, become more independent, learn social skills, possibly start nursery, sleep in their own bed in their own bedroom, feed themselves, gain control over their toilet habits and give up their bottles/stop breastfeeding. And that’s just a few of the MANY ‘milestones’ I found on various online Child Development Timelines (also known as Instigators of Unnecessary Worry in Parents).

This period in our children’s lives has been given it’s very own title – The Terrible Twos. Allegedly filled with tantrums, erratic behaviour and tears (from both child and parent). I’ve been lucky so far in that George’s tantrums consist of a brief lie down on the floor before he can eventually be coaxed into an agreement with the use of food bribery. But I’ve read numerous accounts of toddlers turning feral towards their parents, of tantrums taking violent turns and whole years of chaos and upset. Undoubtedly, The Terrible Twos are a tough stage for parents, as well as the child, but I have to ask the question –

Are they of our own creation?

No child has ever woken up on their 2nd birthday and thought, ‘ah here it is, The Terrible Twos!’ As adults, we have assigned this phase its name, and we have chosen to make it negative. Is it not reasonable to expect a child to put up at least a small amount of resistance to the mountain of changes they are encountering during this short period? As parents we can’t halt their development, I don’t suggest pushing your child down every time they try to walk so that they remain a crawler, or tape their mouth shut so they don’t have to learn to talk. But in the same way I expect it of adults when it comes to my own behaviour, we could cut them a bit of slack.

I mean seriously, if all of a sudden someone took your bed away and presented you something completely different, whilst refusing to allow you your cuppas out of your favourite mug, all the while expecting you to learn 20 new words every day (and how/when to use them!), there’s a high chance you’d lay down on the floor and scream too. I know I would. 

It’s going to be hard, but I am resolved to be more understanding of George’s behaviour, less easily stressed by his occasional tendency towards being awkward, and calmer when dealing with his tantrums. And the next time someone asks me how ‘The Terrible Twos are going?’, I’m not going to sigh or grimace, I’m going to laugh, and point out George’s amazing ability to cope with living in a constant state of flux, and how he’s forever learning as he grows, even if that new information is gleaned via a few tears and foot stamps.

*I thought a picture of George’s faux angry face would be more appropriate than his real one, nothing is going to make you more mad when you’re upset than your Mother thrusting and iPhone in your face. Here’s the un-cropped version.

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14 thoughts on “The Terrible Twos: Are They Of Our Own Creation?

  1. Great post! I feel the same. Everyone is so rushed to get them from infancy to grown up. We are not quite in ‘terrible two’ territory yet, but my son has started with tantrums here and there. I try to remember the calmer I remain, the better. Good luck! Although, it sounds like you don’t need it because you’ve got this 😉

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  2. Such a great post. It’s such a huge period of learning, change, and discovering how to handle emotions, and throwing tantrums is how they learn to manage their emotions. It’s not fun while it’s happening, but it’s just a natural part of growing up. Sounds like you’re doing a great job. #bigpinklink

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  3. Love this post and it’s given me a huge food for thought. My son is 2.5 and we’ve definitely had moments of the terrible twos, however, you’ve given a totally different perspective on this. #bigpinklink

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  4. This is such a great post. It’s very true. I do also think that sometimes they tantrum because they don’t get their own way though! It’s around this age that they start learning that they can’t have/do everything and I thing this makes them feel frustrated, which is also understandable! It sounds as if you have a very good way of looking at it. I think there are so many periods in a child’s life where the expectations on them cause them to resort to ‘melt down mode’. We found it with starting school too. Thanks for linking up with us! #bigpinklink

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  5. I don’t think we really bad Terrible Two’s until F was born, which was when O started acting out for attention. Now he’s almost four and he doesn’t listen a lot of the time and slams his bedroom door when he’s mad. He’s doing the whole threenager thing. It’s fine; he’s just testing boundaries and finding his independence. This too shall pass (and then come back around in 10 years!). #BloggerClubUK

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  6. I was really lucky I think I got off fairly lightly with the Terrible Twos. I do think as parents we can easily fall into the trap of expecting too much though. The same goes even once they get past toddlerhood and into pre-schooler and primary school age. As their abilities increase so do our expectations. I try to put myself in my 5yo’s shoes but I often forget. This post is a good reminder, thanks #bigpinklink

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  7. You raise some really good points here. We all have those days were we’re just in a foul mood and we expect that to be ok so we should really accept that children have these days too!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

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  8. The terrible twos for us has started at 20 months old. I don’t get angry with him when he has a tantrum about not being able to stick his head in the freezer, I just understand that he is going through so much and it is up to us to teach them that maybe you shouldn’t put your head in the freezer….I have found it easier to get through silly tantrums now I accept them for what they are #coolmumclub

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  9. Such an interesting post – I do think a lot of the terrible twos is to do with our own expectations of how children should act which are totally different to how THEY think they should act, which is totally acceptable to them. We make up the rules and expect them to play by then but who are we to say anyway? Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

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  10. You’ve made some great points! I didn’t think my sweet, easy-going, even-tempered second child had the terrible twos in him. But he actually did seem to wake up on his second birthday and flip a switch. My husband and I kept saying, “Who is this child?” I knew how to handle tantrums better with him than I did with my first but I do think they come with that age. We can definitely make them worse by overloading expectations though, like you said. I have a two-year-old right now, I’m going to remember this while I interact with him today!

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