The Terrific Twos – How Do You Make Them Terrific?

People say that you shouldn’t use the phrase “terrible twos”. Instead, you should call this developmental period the “terrific twos”. I have to admit that I struggle a little with this. How do you make this stage terrific?

At 16 months, little miss Evelyn is asserting her independence in a big way. Let me give you some examples. The other day, she threw a fit because I tried to put her casual sandals on her instead of her favourite silver sandals. She refuses to eat unless she can feed herself – except that, at 16 months, she hasn’t yet grasped the art of using a spoon. She will sweep her arm across her highchair tray, throwing her food on the ground, if she is finished eating or doesn’t like the meal. She screams if we hold her while in a store and screams if we put her down and try to hold her hand. I could go on and on.

How do you properly raise a very independent 16-month old? There are days where it feels like I discipline her all day long and it is exhausting! It never seems to have any effect whatsoever.

I’ve read different parenting books and talked to a few different people, and this is what I’ve learned.

  • Consistency is key. My husband and I have made sure that we are on the same page in terms of specific consequences for specific actions.
  • Patience is another key. You won’t see the results of your consistent discipline until months, even years, later.
  • Keeping calm is crucial. Never discipline out of anger and never lose your temper. There are days where you feel like you want to join in your child’s tantrum by throwing yourself on the floor and screaming. Wait until they are down for a nap. You have to model good behaviour in front of them.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. To say that the “terrific twos” are incredibly challenging is an understatement. I’m learning to rely on God’s grace on a moment-by-moment basis. This is where prayer comes in. Lots and lots of prayer.

When all is said and done, I have to  admit that it isn’t all bad. It is a lot of fun to see Evelyn’s little personality emerging. It’s rewarding to teach her new skills and to see her develop and grow. It’s fun to chase her around the house and hear her giggles.

I suppose then that I should add one more thing to the list of things I’ve learned so far about this stage: focus on the positive.

Always remember that you reap what you sow. Sowing and reaping is one of those irrefutable laws of nature. Consequently, when you sow consistency, patience, self-control, prayer, and a positive attitude, eventually you will reap a well-behaved child.

So for now, I’ve just got to hang on to that thought and keep on keeping on!

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