The Terrible Two's Or Totally Curious
I don't quite agree that the terrible two's are a proper label to attribute to the changes we've seen in our children, friend's children or our grandchildren. Consider the vast changes that begin from their moment they take their first breath, we hear their cry which brings tears to our eyes, after hours of labor that sound is music to our ears. Bringing a life into this world is a true miracle. And the changes in their lives are quite tremendous.
Within their first year we cuddle, we coddle, we try to hold onto their infancy and the beauty of the first smile, hearing their first ohhh and ahhh's. They learn to hold their head up, push their arms up, roll over, hold their bottles, laugh, giggle, sit up on their own, crawl, pull themselves up to a standing position and the ultimate challenge, learning to walk. That's when the dynamic of their innocence changes and new challenges pop up.
As they graduate into their second year of life they learn to explore the world around them. Simple pleasures of holding balloons, trying to feed themselves, stack blocks, push carts, discover their independence and test their limits. Their vocabulary has expanded and their favorite word is no. I've realized that the words that get the most responses from mom and dad are repeated quite often. Initially they don't understand what it means though they understand that they get a rise out of their parents. Have you noticed that an action, words or behavior that creates laughter is met with repetitive action, words and behavior.
Discovering their independence comes with happiness, sadness, frustration and temper tantrums. What parents need to understand is that this isn't a show of defiance, their children are experiencing their new independence and sometimes are just as confused as their parents by their behavior. Their frustration grows from the inability to verbalize their feelings, explain their frustration, the anger they may be feeling. I would have my children look into my eyes, give them a tissue to dry their eyes, tell them to throw the tears away and use their words to tell me what was wrong. Sometimes is as simple as wanting a ball in the toy box they can't reach. We as parents and grandparents need to help them discover their voice, teach them to use their words and tell us what is wrong, what they need, what they want, if they are thirsty, hungry, upset, mad, whatever those feelings may be.
Preparing a daily routine for breakfast, play time, tv time, lunch time, nap time, craft time, snack time, dinner time, play time, bath time, quiet time and then bed time. This helps them learn what will come next after a few days of this repetitiveness. When my daughter's were younger after supper we have quite time, watched one tv show and read a book. They knew that after the book was time it was bedtime, they put on their pj's, brushed their teeth and we did our sweet dreams. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and we made need to make adjustments but all in all having a schedule / routine does make a difference.
Combined with the routine when offering choices for anything from breakfast, lunch, snacks, tv shows, books to read, play or craft time set a limit. When offering them to many choices at once they get confused. Breakfast you would want to offer cereal or yogurt, lunch could be soup or sandwich, snacks how about strawberries or grapes, tv shows may ask if they want Yo Gabba Gabba or Team Omizomie, if reading a book show them two, let them pick, do they want to play with their toys or do a craft. This will make it easier and less stressful for all concerned. This gives them the ability to make a choice that you find acceptable yet they have that little bit of independence and they feel they took a part in making the decision.
Once the routine is set in place, they've learned to make decisions then working on setting limits. You may want to limit the amount of time they watch tv, what they can play with at certain times, when they can have a drink, a snack, take their clothes off, keep them in certain areas of the house, not allow them in certain areas and let them know that if they test their limits there will be a form of punishment. In my children's case is was a time out first then I talked to them about why they were given the time out, made them apologize for not using their listening ears.
The majority of us have experienced the temper tantrums and weren't sure initially how to react or if we should react. That answer is no. Walk away and when they are done talk to them about their behavior. Ask why they were upset and tell them they need to use their words and give them a time out for that behavior. They need to know what behavior is allowed and what behavior isn't. They need this guidance because as parents we are their first teachers and they learn by what we do, what we say, what we allow them to do and what they aren't allowed to do.
As they learn and grow more they also need to be taught that their behavior may cause them to lose privileges. My children if they threw a toy they had the toy taken away for a day, were told that throwing toys wasn't allowed and that they could have broken something or hurt someone. If they didn't finish lunch or supper they didn't have a snack because if they weren't hungry enough to finish their meal they weren't hungry enough for a snack. Times that they were grouchy or fussy they had a quiet time on the couch with a pillow and blanket. No tv just quiet time.
In the same token if they had a really good day treat them to something special, take them to the park, go for a walk, get an ice cream, watch a movie with mom and dad, do something extra special to show them you appreciate their good behavior. My daughter has a " picnic" in the living room with my grand daughter who loves spreading out the blanket, sitting with mom, watching a movie, having a sandwich and having popcorn. Come on now, what's a movie without popcorn!
Mom and Dad, your child isn't going through anything terrible, they are learning, discovering, becoming independent yet still need kisses and hugs from both of you. Each day will be a new experience for all of you and each night you will watch your little angle sounds asleep and ask God if you can have another day to share even more of their innocent and wonder.