A different perspective on the Terrible Two’s and how to handle it
This is a time in life where conflicts tend to rise and sometimes become something that steers some families everyday life and ultimately their quality of life.
The reason why parents feel completely overwhelmed, angry and have constant power struggles is that they are looking at this completely wrong.
The Terrible Two’s is often a sudden change in your child’s behavior. Overnight your child wants to tie their own shoelaces, decide for themselves what they want to wear and eat, they want to make most decisions for themselves and will put up a fight with anyone who tries to decide for them. All of a sudden most things and routines that worked yesterday does not.
This leap of independence happens three times in life, the first time around 2–3 years of age, the second when your child is around 6 years old and the third is in the teens. This article is useful for all of these ages.
The reason why the Terrible Two’s are seen as terrible is that of the parents. Yes, you read it right. You might think to yourself, this is not true, it is the kids, they are being impossible, they refuse to listen and do exactly the opposite as I ask them. You might read this and find it completely wrong but this is actually a good thing for every parent out there experience a difficult time in these years.
Not seldom we give our children the blame for the quarrels, struggles, and the bad atmosphere that spring from it but by doing so you put yourself in a passive role with the attitude that you are not able to affect your life and happiness. This is wrong for two reasons, firstly you are the adult and the leader. If not accepting the role of the adult you put all the responsibility on a child with no life experience which leads us to the second wrongdoing. Your blame will affect your child and their self-esteem if they are always met with anger, disappointment, and resentment.
I am not saying it is easy or possible to always have a constantly harmonious relationship without any quarrels but it is possible to lessen power struggles and increase a happier atmosphere in the family. And it is your responsibility to do so, not your child.
To reach a calmer and more harmonious atmosphere you need to have a good look at yourself, this might feel extraneous at first but it is essential. So have a look in the mirror once and a while to check how you are doing as a parent and if anything needs to change. This is one of the biggest challenges parent faces, to always be flexible and ready to change at the same pace your children develop.
The experience of difficulty in these years has often more to do with the parents not being flexible enough to keep up with their child’s development and instead set up more rules and constricts the child’s freedom even more which make the child struggle more.
Often parents get more strict and set up more rules and make it into power struggle so that the child knows who is in charge. This is most often completely unnecessary and just drains a lot of energy from everyone involved. Most of the time your child acts and behaves impossible and put up a fight is to gain independence, not unlike the women fight for independence and the black movement for freedom. All struggles are to gain freedom and independence just like your child is growing up and the reason struggles occur is if there is something or someone standing in the way.
So when your child wakes up one day and requires more independence and demands to try their abilities, let them as much as you can. If your child wants to try to tie their own shoelace, let them try, if they want to cook with you, let them in and give them assignments what to do, let them decide for themselves what to wear and give them more freedom of choice and what to do. As much as possible, grant more freedom as long as it is safe for the child to do so.
If you grant them more freedom you will also notice that they are going to accept when you say no more often.
So my advice for you are
• If you have tried introducing more rules, do not introduce even more. It is time to try something else. Do not do more of what is not working.
• Listen to your children and be responsive. How they behave and act and the atmosphere between you is a constant reminder of how you are doing as a parent. Take a look in the mirror, do you need to change anything?
• Respect them just as you would respect an adult. They will have a different kind of trouble, they will experience situations differently than you and what seems like nothing to you might be a big issue for them but always respect their experiences. Listen to them and take them seriously, if you do not, you can not expect them to do so for you.