Here's another one I liked:
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TERRIFIC, NOT TERRIBLE
Waiting in line at the drugstore last week, I smiled at the young mother ahead of me, who was struggling with her little daughter, a child who had no patience with this grown-up activity of waiting.
The mother gave an elaborate sigh, rolled her eyes at me, and muttered, "The terrible two's." I smiled in response, thinking how misunderstood is this title for toddlers.
Bill Cosby once said, "Give me one hundred two-year-olds and I can take over the world." This sentence captures the dynamic nature of the two-year-old.
If you created a list of words to describe this youngster, you would add terms like energetic, impulsive, egocentric, curious. In fact, for every negative you mentioned, you could find a positive characteristic, as did Cosby, noting the powerful force of two's.
The strongest tool for survival as a parent of this child who has been on the planet for twenty-four short months is to understand how striving for autonomy, a sense of self, and independence rules this child's life. Understanding why toddlers behave as they do, indeed MUST behave, and how adults can help and guide their efforts is vital.
What tools does a two-year-old have? Well, consider: energy with practically no limit; a compulsion and need to move; powerful curiosity that peaks around eighteen months; big ideas, and strong emotions, with frustration often heading the list.
What does a two-year-old not have? Lacking are: much verbal language or a lot of ability to process the streams of language that come from adults--consider this in relation to the frustration listed above. Also lacking is judgment of the consequences of actions, or any sense of others' needs or feelings, or any self-control.
Juxtapose these two lists, and you get some idea of why this is a tough time for both youngsters and parents.
Now the biggest question of all—what does this child need for healthy development?
A most important answer is adults who can understand toddler limitations, adults who, in fact, expect their lack of control, and can offer them control from without--freedom within limits.
They need adults who are neither exasperated nor angered by the two-year-old's level of development, knowing that in time new abilities will come. And they need adults who remember those big ideas and enormous curiosity.
That means adults have to avoid over-restriction, which will inevitably lead to head-on power struggles. Two's need a safe, interesting world for active exploration, to satisfy that profound curiosity.
Mostly, two's need opportunities to see themselves as powerful and capable, with grownups cheerfully supporting their efforts to do as much for themselves as they can.
While parents in a hurry may find it challenging to wait while the two-year-old struggles to put on socks or pull up pants, the gain in a sense of autonomy is priceless.
Two's need adults who can value the growing sense of power without being intimidated by the youngster who is trying it out. And two's need adults who get a good night's sleep and can smile at all that energy, as did Bill Cosby.
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© Growing Child 2010 Please feel free to forward this article to a friend.
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