Well, the terrible twos are here, but most likely you have been dealing with some of the behaviors and emotions that everyone regards as the terrible twos. Your baby is getting taller and now not only do you need to baby proof, you need to toddler proof you house.
This is a time of some major developments in the way of communication and the quest for independence. Sometime around the 2.5 years, your baby will have what I term a “verbal explosion.” They will go from a few hundred words to a few thousand words in a short period of time. I guess the brain just jump starts the mouth and the words “explode” out.
They love to be read to and will almost want you to do this constantly. They will want the same book read over and over. Where you may have changed the words or story just to keep from getting bored in the past, you cannot do that anymore. Your baby will be able to remember the story either out of the sheer repetition of hearing is so many times, or just because they can remember the story plot line.
Along with the “book game” you will change some of the games you play with your child. In the past you would play “identify the thing game.” This is where you would point to an object and have the baby tell you what it is. When they tell you something is a ball say “yes that is a ball, a little, green, ball. Describe it more to them than just a ball. This is still a good game to play, but you should also start to play the “identify the sound game” with them. This game is played by when you hear a sound, you ask them to name that sound.
Another major development during this time is the quest for independence is kicking into second gear. Not quite able to go independent but they will have spurts where they want to be left alone, especially when playing. Find or make a place for them to be independent at. A big box will even do. This is another whole room to them.
Help with their strive for independence by giving them small chores to do around the house. If you have a small trash bag that can be carried out with the larger one, let the toddler do the little one. If you are picking up the living room, tell them to gather all the shoes and put them in one place. If you are cooking supper, let them stir the macaroni. All this is, of course, under your watchful eye.
Another way you can move them toward independence is by giving them choices. Life is full of choices and you do not want them to have anxiety or not learn how to make a choice. Provide two and only two options to the child. Make sure they are both options you can live with. For instance you want your child to help pick up the mess in their room. You can say “I will help you, but you either have to pick up the toys or the clothes.” Do not say “you either pick up your mess or you just go in the living room and sit on the couch and you will not watch television.” Guess where the child will be. That’s right on the couch, pouting. Then when you try to stick to what you said about no television, you have to have another argument about that. Plus, this punishment is going to be harder on you than it will on them. Because other family members may want to watch television and when that happens, you will have to keep monitoring to make sure your baby follows through. On top of that you still had to clean your room and he did not have to. Make consequences you can live with. Give choices that still teach.
By this time your child is weighing approximately 22-38 pound and is standing tall at 32-40 inches. They have a full set of teeth and a very full head of hair. Hygiene is becoming more important and you will have some “fights” on your hand with some of these issues. Some children will still enjoy baths; some will not want to take them for day. Teeth brushing is generally an issue. I guess it just doesn’t feel right to them.
They are very mobile now and will go places that you cannot imagine. They will get into predicaments that you cannot fathom. It just does not happen in the movies, I have seen heads stuck in the banisters a few times. I don’t know if I can even figure out how they got it in there.
At the dinner take, they are doing quite well with using the spoon. Forks are a little trickier and they should not have knives yet. Even though the utensils are being used properly, the attitude is not. You will be cleaning up a lot of messes. In the past, the food hitting the floor may be in play or lack of coordination. Now the food hitting the floor is a direct result of the attitude of not wanting something or because you told them they had to sit there until they at least tried their peas.
The gross motor skills are getting a lot better. They can walk backwards, climb on everything, and can squat to pick up things. Throwing things is not an option now, it is a requirement. They will throw anything they can get their hands on, even the cat.
The fine motor skills are getting a little better. As mentioned before, they can use the spoon quite well. They can stack blocks and objects. They can scribble with crayons, markers, pens, and pencils. They will be able to open higher up drawers and cabinets. Combined with the climbing capabilities, they will be able to get into that shelve above the stove where you used to keep things out of reach.
The age of two is more recognized as a behavior time and a physical growth time. There are some big mental developments that happen as well. They can start using sentences. This is usually thought of more as a social development, but it is mental as well. Now the toddler has to group words together to convey meaning for communication, in that sense they must recognize that a red ball is different from a green ball. They must know that even though a bird and a plane both fly, they are two different things. This is called assimilation and accommodation.
They can name things very well. They enjoy when you read to them, but they love when they can read to you. It might be just the memory of the story from past readings or they may be “reading” from the pictures. I encourage this as much as possible. They also like to sing and hum and they might not get it right, but they will know some of the words to songs.
As stated before, the toddler will start to develop a sense of independence. It started between one and two years old when they would walk away from the parents farther and farther, but after a certain point they would come back, even at a run in some cases.
During this time, they will run, but it will be away from you. If they are relatively safe, do not chase them. If you chase them, it reinforces they can go farther and not get hurt because you are right behind them. If they see you are not chasing them, they will stop at a certain point when they feel some fear coming on. Of course, I must say, do not let them run or go farther away where it is not safe. If they are near a road, run and get them quickly.
Erickson says you must have a delicate balance between giving the child autonomy and still having the control over them. He calls this stage the Autonomy versus Shame and Guilt. You should allow the child to exert some independence and not instill shame or guilt on them when they do not have successes.
One of the mistakes that most parents make is with regards to the bathroom or toilet training. They will make a big deal over successes and failures. When a child has accidents, do not punish them. They are already embarrassed or disappointed in the mistake. If you peed on yourself, would you want someone getting onto you in front of others? When you make mistakes, do you want to be called out in front of your peers or people you care about? If you have a boss that goes around saying to all your coworkers “He knows better. He knows what he is suppose to do, but just will not do it” how would you feel? What if it was a boss that you really looked up to and wanted to be like?
On the flip side, do not make a big deal about when they have successes in regards to potty training either. I remember a well-known, talk show host with a doctorate degree in psychology, tell parents to make a big deal about it. “Have them call grandma” he said. I totally disagree with this. If you make a big deal out of when they use the “big boy potty” and they see it makes you happy, guess what they are going to do when they want to make you unhappy? Or what about the time you are busy and you cannot reward, throw a party, or call grandma when they use the bathroom? What will happen then? I will tell you, they will think they are not going to get rewarded when they do something and they will stop doing it. DO NOT reward behaviors that you expect them to do without reward. Reward when they go above and beyond. You do not get bonus checks for making productivity, you make bonus checks for going above productivity. At least that is the way it should be.
Your toddler will share more during this time, but usually when they want to. In other words, if you tell them to share, they may or may not, but they are willing to share more with others on their own.
They love to be hugged and kissed. They love showing and receiving affection from the familiar people in their lives. They always want to talk to you while you are on the phone. Usually when you need to talk to someone about something important. They may even want to talk to them.
They will pretend to talk on the phone and will exhibit more make believe play during this time. They will learn how to work the television and radio. You may wake up in the middle of the night when the television is turned on and blasting from the living room. Yep, they learned to turn in on and turn it up.
With regards to the last paragraph, you should make sure you have locks on the doors that they cannot get open. The toddlers know they like it outside and they are up at 2 am and want to go outside and they will, if the locks are not in place. You do not want to be the parent when the police come knocking on the door, returning the wandering child. The police will usually be accompanied by a case worker, who will want to ask you a bunch of question.
This time can be very trying for a parent. Even if you are not a new parent with your first child, this period can be difficult. But rest assure, they will make it out of the terrible twos. They might go into the terrible threes, frantic fours, tumultuous teens, and awful adulthood, but they will never be the terrible twos anymore. Enjoy the young years. This times will be hard, but they will be stories you can tell their spouses and children when they have them. You will be able to invoke revenge at them when they are older. You will be able to embarrass them with these stories at a later day.
Please, even though, the times will be tough now, do not ever beat or harm your child out of your own anger. They cannot help it. They are by the way, your child. You may not have acted that way, but most of the time these behaviors are learned. If not from you, then from the decision of the people you allow around them. As parents, we all make mistakes. As children, we all make mistakes. As people, we all make mistakes. We learn more from mistakes than we do from successes. Let the child make mistakes and give you the prime teaching opportunity to help them not make them again. Love your children; do not abuse your children.
Take care of yourself and others. Make today and everyday a great day.
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