This is a piece that was shared with me by Leigh Geary but which originally was published on her blog, The Mom Diaries under the title, ‘The Terrible Twos: Am I being punished for all my sins?’
Lets talk about the terrible two’s shall we? Holy Moley! I think I’m about to lose my shit in a big way but lets face it that would just be teaching him that tantrums and inappropriate behavior are acceptable.
I forgot what its like to have a two-year old in the house who thinks he’s Lord Muck and that our lives revolve around his every wish and command. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been ordered around so much in my life. And I REALLY hate being told what to do. This is today’s conversation with my cute as a button two-year-old son as we were getting ready to leave the house:
He enters my bedroom looking very hard done by, because lets face it being two is a rollercoaster ride of eating, sleeping, playing, outings, treats, afternoon naps followed by more playing and eating. It’s tough.
“Mommy hold you” (in a moan that’s so dramatic you think there may be something sinister brewing)
“Mommy is just getting dressed bub then I will hold you, come let’s go to the gym. Go get your shoes and then we can go!”
“No mommy do it”
“Ok I will. Just let me finish putting my shoes on then I will get your shoes ok?”
“MOMMMY DO IT!!!!”
“Yes I will do it now”
“MOMMMMMMMMY DOOOOOOO IT!!!”
In a huff I go and get his shoes and as I reach for them in his cupboard the freak out escalates to disturbing levels:
“NO. NO. NO!!! I DO it!! I DO it!”
“You said three times you wanted me to get it babe” (how’s me trying to reason with a two-year old?)
“No I DO IT!”
“Fine, by all means do it yourself”
I stand back to allow him to do get the gumboots out and he begins the painfully long process of negotiating them onto his feet. Just as he is about to fall from, all the wiggling and winding, I reach out ever so gently just to offer him a hand. (I’ve been burnt in the past and have learnt my lesson)
“No I do it!! Brody do it! I do it by self, NOO HELPING!!!!!!!!!”
I stand back in a panic (a little afraid for my life too) and watch his will power and stubborn nature refusing to give in to the help that is only a hand reach away. I wonder who he got that from?
I try one last time to gently show him we can work together and he throws himself in a lump on the floor.
I have a gym class I would like to make and I will be damned if my two-year-old kid and his boots are the reason I’m late. So I walk back to my room to finish putting on my other shoe.
What followed can only be described as a meltdown of disturbing proportions when he followed me back in to the room, threw the boots at me and said ”MOMMY DO IT MOMMY HELP YOU!!!”
And so there we were back at square one. My worst place to be. Square one represents energy wasted and time you will never get back.
After what feels like the longest exercise of coercing him to work with me, we get the boot on!
And just like that, as thought nothing has happened he screams “I DID IT!”” And with a bounce in his step and enough giddy excitement to bring a circus to back to life, he marches off.
I on the hand, was left in the fetal position on the floor wondering if I even needed to go to the gym after all the effort it took to get through that.
I get that toddlers are in a very intense stage of self-assertion and independence but it can be tough on the rest of the family. It can be tough on the neighbours too. It’s even harder knowing when you are allowed to be extra firm and tell them how its going be and when you need to encourage their independence and nurture their strong wills by letting them go through the process themselves.
This is what DR Betty Liebovich says about this time in a toddler’s life:
“Your toddler may show developing independence through eating, dressing, playing with toys, and drawing. Sometimes, your toddler will want to do these things without any help; other times, she will need your help with everything. With the uncertainty of whether help is needed or not comes frustration on your part and that of your toddler. This is when your toddler may resist and throw a tantrum”
Or the world may end in my case.
She goes on to say:
“Your toddler may resist any help from you, insisting that she can do a task on her own. However, she may then become frustrated because she is unable to complete the task, as s/he would like. The resistance to accept help is your toddler asserting her independence. In order to assert her own will your toddler may reject your own. Negotiating when to assist, when to hang back and when to anticipate opposition takes time and patience. Having some ideas of what to anticipate and how to negotiate independence may ease resistance and opposition”
I’m hoping to find some ways to diffuse these situations and learn how my little guy thinks, how he is wired. If you have any tips to share with me and other moms please feel free to comment below. Who knows maybe we can brainstorm another post together!
This mom needs all the help she can get!