Monday, 28 October 2013

Terrible Twos - definitely not a myth!

Wow. We thought earlier this year that Lydia's behaviour was typical of a two year old, with the odd tantrum causing some considerable frustration and embarrassment whenever it occurred in a public place. But just recently Lydia's rebellious side has kicked into overdrive.

Saw this on the Internet - perfect description!

When she is nice and playful, it's an absolute joy to be around her, but when she is being obstinate and uncooperative she is absolutely unbearable company. She has taken to telling us off, threatening to put us in the corner (for no reason), complaining whenever the slightest thing goes against her, not complying with even the most simple of requests from us, and generally doing the opposite of whatever she should be doing.

From what I have read on the Internet, this is typical two year old behaviour, in the vein of the oft-quoted "Terrible Twos".

We thought we had already gone through this earlier this year, but this latest wave of opposition from Lydia shows us that this stage is not over yet. As I said above, when she is nice and well-behaved it is so much fun, her cheeky, playful, chatty demeanour bringing huge smiles to our faces. But, the other side of her (Mr Hyde) is an absolute nightmare!

With Lydia, the problem isn't the classic toddler tantrum; thankfully that is fairly rare. However, it's the general refusal to do anything we ask her or simply not listening to us. Particularly frustrating when we are near a road and she refuses to stop when we tell her to.

I had a look around the Internet for any advice, and I came across an article on a website called "Parenting My Toddler". This articles gives a few good explanations for why toddlers can be so uncooperative - basically as part of their development at this stage they want to have their own independence by making their own decisions. This is definitely true of Lydia. Although there is no miracle cure to stop the confrontations and conflicts, the article says it helps to narrow down their choices; for example, offer them a selection of things to do instead of just openly asking them what they want to do. This way, they get to make the decision themselves.

I'm sure certain areas of conflict - particularly getting ready to go out - are unavoidable. If we ask Lydia to put her shoes on and she refuses, then we're pretty much faced with a potential tantrum. I wonder if this could be eased by offering her a choice of shoes to put on and letting her pick the pair she wants to wear?

Hmmm. Maybe it could work. I'll try putting that into practise and see what happens.

As many articles I have read say, there is no way of stopping the tantrums and obstructive behaviour entirely, as this is all part of their natural development. Some articles say we as parents should concentrate on the positive sides of the toddler phase, such as when the child comes out with a hilarious or unexpected phrase, or the extra cuddles we get as a result of their dual need for us as well as independence.

I know every parent goes through this with their child, and I guess we will just have to grin and bear it. What scares me is that some articles refer to it as the terrible twos AND THREES... please don't less this drag on for another year! :(


Rob said...

The best advice I ever received (beyond those given to me by my parents) on raising children came from my child psych. prof. She said children need to be given bounderies. They'll try to go over, under, or through those bounderies. If you tell your child at the age of five not to get on the sofa with the ice cream or you'll discipline them and they do and you don't, when they are 15 and you tell them to be in by midnight they'll laugh in your face. Give them bounderies and enforce them BUT within those bounderies give them the latitude to make choices. As they grow older you expand those bounderies and freedom of choices until, when the reach the age of 18 you can knock down the bounderies and let them go knowing you've given them the skills needed to make the right choices in life.
Just wait until you hit the "I don't know" and the "Not me!" stage. So much fun.

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