The terrible twos are a challenging time for both the child and the parent. According to Dr. Maureen O’Brien, author of Watch Me Grow I’m Two, “the central dilemma for both child and parent in the third year springs largely from the normal unevenness of the two-year-old’s mental, physical, and emotional development . . . many of the difficulties . . . even tantrums on the child’s part – are a result of this mismatch between a parent’s or child’s expectations of the child’s abilities.” In other words, he just can’t do what you want him to do (or even what he wants to do.)
He is becoming aware of other people’s viewpoints, yet still has a short attention span, a limited ability to control impulses, and very little practice at controlling emotions. He is still learning how to control everything about his body, from the use of his fingers to the release of hormones. You need to be patient with him, as he will grow out of it, but you also need to help him become patient with himself by modeling proper behavior.
Here are two tricks to help you deal with the inevitable “traumas” you will experience during the terrible twos: (1) Imagine yourself ten years in the future – will you even remember this event? If so, will you be laughing about it? (2) Imagine how it could have been much worse. Both of these tricks will take you out of your emotional dimension and into your mental dimension and give you a little healthy perspective.
Have a little faith. It’s just a phase your child is going through, learning how to handle unfamiliar emotions. The key is to demonstrate the proper way to behave. If you get angry and upset, your child learns from your example. If you are calm, your child will learn to be calm.
For more advice on handling the Terrible Twos and other stages of your child’ development, click here to see your options starting at under a dollar.