We have all heard about the “terrible 2’s.” My little one is fast approaching that mile-marker.
If you have already been through the 2’s, you know this “stage” can be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years really, depending upon your children’s development and personality. Therefore, I’m here to argue we are smack in the depths of the “terrible 2’s” right now and we are at 21 months.
So, what is this stage that we call the “Terrible 2’s?”
It is primarily where your toddler knows what he or she wants but can’t communicate effectively yet thus creating frustration. Each child handles that frustration differently but many become upset and throw tantrums. Thus this stage gets the bad title of the “Terrible 2’s.”
But is it that “terrible” that they just want you to understand what they want? Not really. How would you feel if no one seemed to understand what you wanted?
This is how I see their frustration in comparison:
Imagine you are in a foreign country and you don’t know the language and no one speaks your language. Now imagine being hungry and you can’t just go get the food yourself. You can’t see it or read it. You just have this person in front of you and you have to tell them you are hungry and what you want to eat.
You try to tell them “I’m hungry may I have an apple?” and they look at you and don’t understand. So you say it again.
They bring you a napkin.
You don’t want a napkin so you say “No” and ask for an apple again.
They bring you a glass of water.
Well you are thirsty so you take a drink. Then you look up to ask for the apple again because, well, you are still hungry, but the person is gone because they think they have gotten you what you wanted. Now you have to get their attention again.
FINALLY, you get their attention again and say you are hungry and would like an apple.
The lady looks at you and asks if you want to go to the bathroom and show you where it is. Ugggg!
“No. An Apple,” you say. She looks at you and says “More water” and refills your cup.
“No. An Apple!” Now you are frustrated and you are looking around for an apple to point to. You know it’s probably in the refrigerator so you point to the refrigerator.
The lady opens the refrigerator and shows you a bagel.
You point again.
She gives you a yogurt.
You point again.
She gives you a piece of cheese.
You finally say a word that makes her think “apple” and she shows you an apple. You grab it before she puts it away FINALLY!!!
You get the picture. So…imagine how frustrated you may be after an exchange like this. Can you only image how frustrated your little one is struggling with the language every day and not being able to get you to understand her needs? I can. And admittedly, I would be EXHAUSTED!
So this frustration may become a tantrum. You would probably feel on the verge of a nuclear meltdown too if it took that kind of an exchange regarding the apple every day, every time you wanted something.
So are the “Terrible 2’s” that terrible? Not really. You little one is just trying to learn the language and communicate it effectively.
The next time your little one is throwing a fit over his cup or the toy you gave him, try to be calm and help him communicate to you. You might see the “Terrible 2’s” tantrums dissipate.
How do you help your little one communicate and avoid break downs? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.