It’s always bothered me whenever I’ve heard parents use the term “terrible twos.” I definitely believe that in some sense telling yourself and your child that they’re going through the terrible twos is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s almost as if giving the phase of growth they’re in a name is validating it, and that validation gives their behavior power…which is a bad thing.
To answer the question that’s inevitably burning in your brain, no, even if I embraced the term “terrible twos,” I wouldn’t say that E.V.’s quite there. HOWEVER, she has begun occasionally throwing small tantrums, asserting herself with “yes” and “no,” and being a bit wild in public. Most commonly, though, she’s been “taking a minute,” which is quite hilarious to me. When she doesn’t get her way, she throws herself on the ground, buries her head, and takes a silent minute or two to regroup. Typically, when she’s dealt with her frustration, she’ll jump up and be her happy self again, but the whole scene is quite comical. I suppose that these quiet objections are the most preferable form of dealing her emotions, right? It could be way worse I suppose…
I don’t necessarily consider myself a patient person, but 20 months of dealing with E.V. 24/7 has given me a certain level of both expertise and tolerance, meaning that I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to these outbursts. Experience has taught me thus far that largely ignoring her tantrums (unless there’s a true issue) takes away their power and that they pass more quickly that way. Ryan, on the other hand, can’t. handle. them. ;)
Ryan’s biggest issue is when she’s wild or whiny in public. His ability to take a breath, not care what other people around us think and view E.V.’s frustration with empathy needs a bit of fine tuning. (I’m pretty sure he’ll get a lot more practice once Baby #2 is here and he’s on toddler duty!) I get his concerns; ignoring her tantrums can’t always be the solution, but I’m big about picking my battles. I don’t mind telling Emma Vance no, correcting her, and (eventually although we’re not quite there yet) punishing her, but I also believe that kids thrive on positive reinforcement. My parents weren’t huge disciplinarians with me, and I was a well-behaved kid, which I suppose it one of those circuitous situations. I hope that E.V.’s mischievousness is always innocent, and until it’s accompanied by truly bad intentions (and not just curious toddler-ness), I’m in the camp of gentle, empathetic discipline. I just keep reminding myself that she’s going through a ton of crazy, new, strong emotions without the ability to verbally express herself, which gives me a sympathetic view of her tantrums. Ryan’s not quite there, but we’re working on creating a balance of our two points of view, meaning that I’m disciplining a bit more and he’s hugging a bit more these days.
The best development we’ve had from these outbursts? E.V. learning to say “sorry,” which is adorable. (She says it with a weird accent like Gilly from Saturday Night Live.) Thankfully she’s a naturally loving kid, so she’s quick to apologize and eager to hug it out when we’ve had an issue, which makes this whole new phase much easier to deal with. I mean, when your kid lays their heavy head on your shoulder, says “sorry,” and snuggles you with all their might, how can you not forgive them in an instant? And, of course, those little girl hugs work wonders on daddies — even more so than on mommies. :)