Terrible Twos: The Myth and Legend

Are the twos truly so “terrible”? Well I have found that yes they are, and yet, no they are not.

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When I found out I was pregnant (both times) I signed up for one of those “What’s your baby doing now” weekly newsletters. I find them to be incredible helpful, when they are not spamming my inbox with other garbage, as far as letting me know where my child may be developmentally. I’ve always been good about keeping in mind that they may be ahead, or a little behind on some stages, but that as long as they were eventually hitting those goals within a few weeks, we were good.

One thing I noticed in these little blurbs was the word “regression”. It’s both an appropriate and terrible term to use. Appropriate because that’s exactly what seems to be happening. The little angel that could walk, is now crawling…again. She could use a fork, but hey, fingers are easier! All the things that drive a parent nuts because their child knows how to do all these simple tasks, but seems obstinately against using their skills. Ergo, their sweet baby has “regressed”. But it’s also a terrible term because basically your child has set aside that skill to learn a new one. So it’s more like they’ve picked up a toy, mastered it, and have now set it aside to master this other toy that goes in tandem with the first. So what does “regression” have to do with two year olds?

Well, “terrible twos” as they are deemed, seem to be just one giant regressive state. I say “seem” because that has been my experience to date with my 2 1/2 year old. Right up to two, I had a sweet, amenable, eager to please, eat anything toddler. Put food in front of her, did not matter what, she would eat it. Ask her to do something, and she would immediately comply. It was AWESOME. Then she tried a new word: no.

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I had been expecting it, but it still was grating to hear. Still at 2.5 it seems to be a favorite word. On particularly “bad” days we’ll ask “Are you a no monster?” and she’ll say “yes”. Well, hey, can’t get mad, at least we know now.image001

Shortly after “no”, came the tantrums. Basically all she was doing was trying to assert her own ideas of how things should be, and pushing her boundaries. I will admit, there were, and still are, days I wish to duct tape her to the wall and just walk away for five minutes. She pushes, and pushes, and then right when I think I’m going to snap I remember that it’s the “twos” and that we’re both learning. She’s learning how far she can push and where her boundaries are, and so am I. I am also learning, the best way to both punish and explain what is going on and why.

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Finally, the nail in the coffin of “terrible” for me, was her eating habits. She went from an eat anything, try anything approach to eat 3 things. Talk about a blow to my “proud mama” ego. I could take her anywhere! She would anything from gyoza to enchiladas, to pasta with red sauce. Now I count myself lucky if a PB&J goes down. Oh, and those 3 items that she will eat can change weekly, daily, or hourly, all depending on her mood. The only thing I can guarantee that she will eat and ask for repeatedly until you are looking for the duct tape, is “cookie” or “pie”.

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So why do I think it’s one giant “regressive” stage? Because of all the easter eggs she has been surprising me with. She has gone from 25 vocabulary words, to 150 and complete sentences. She has taken an interest in the potty, so I’m trying very very hard no to push. (I am so ready to be done with pull ups! I just have to make sure I don’t incite her to push back and use that “no” word.) She is attempting to dress herself. She “reads” to her baby doll and stuffed animals. And the other day she just decided it was time to climb. She just climbed up the side of a “rock climbing wall” on a childs play set. No warning. I about wet myself I was so excited for her as well as scared that I was about to have to explain a broken arm at the pediatricians office. I have to admit, for as tough as this age is, it is also the most amazing and rewarding. Well, so far.

So some tips and tricks to dealing with a two year old:

  • Patience
  • Patience
  • Deep breaths
  • As far as food goes, don’t fight it. Find those 3 things and just add a new item or two every day. Breakfast and lunch is her choice, dinner is whatever we make. I just put it in front of her and if she eats, HURRAY! If she doesn’t, well she’s going to be hungry in the morning.
    • Also, I strongly recommend NOT making a deal out it. Don’t ask her to try a bite. Don’t say anything like “if you don’t eat your dinner you won’t get a cookie”. All this seems to do is make little one both angry and incredibly frustrated. Apparently cookies for dinner should be the “norm”. My recommendation is to set the food down and then sit at your own plate. I have discovered that if I ignore what she is and isn’t eating, that she generally picks at what she has and a good amount will disappear without a word being said. Plus this will keep you from wanting to kill your child before the end of the meal.
    • As well as this, we have the rule that she can’t get down before dinner is over. This forces her to sit there and usually she ends up eating more than the two or three bites she’ll take in the first five minute and then announce “All done!”.
  • As far as tantrums go. Well…for punishment you are on your own. I will warn you there is a bit learning curve as you and your child both learn what the best way to punish him or her is. There is fantastic advice and articles all over the internet and in books. I suggest you read up and be prepared to be flexible until you find that just right niche.
  • Explain emotions! Strong emotions like frustration can really set your toddler off. I hate to sound like an informercial, but there are some Daniel Tiger shows that are fantastic for just this bullet point. I think it’s season 2?  Anyways, helping explain emotions and giving them a label helps your toddler to be able to tell you exactly what is going on.
  • Let him say “no” every once in a while and offer an alternative. I try to keep options limited to two. I’ve discovered that if I offer 3, then we’ll be sitting there for hours while the decision is being made. For example this is a frequent conversation we have:
    • Would you like PB&J for lunch?
    • No!
    • Well then how about turkey and cheddar?
    • No!
    • Ok, well that is all mommy has, so which would you like. PB&J or Turkey?
      • Usually she is good about deciding at this point. Once I make it clear the option is hers. The same can be said for after nap activities (play dough vs dishes for example) or what to wear. Now I have let her go all out for what to wear, and I swear I was a little woozy after she got dressed (it’s amazing what paisley, polka dots, and plaid all together in one outfit can do to your eyes and inner ears), but she was so proud of herself. “I did it all by myself mom!”
  • And finally…patience. I made the mistake of saying “my way or the highway” at the beginning of this phase and we were both at each others throats. I have found that if I just take a deep breath and explain myself, that life is that much easier for both of us. For example:
    • Sweetie, please put your books away.
    • NO
    • {child’s name}, please put your books away, it’s time to get ready for dinner/lunch/bed/something…
    • NO
    • {childs name}, you seem to have trouble listening. If that is the case you are going to go sit in time out.
    • Noooooo! I don’t want time out.
    • Well then please be a good girl and do as mommy asks.
    • Now here is where I see one of two things happen. She either gets up and does as she was asked, in which case, yay!! OR she says no a third time. If she says no a third time I take a deep breath, remind myself to never act out of anger, pick her up, and set her in her timeout place. When I put her in timeout, I refuse to make eye contact, I refuse to speak or acknowledge her please, and I never give her a time. I just sit her down gently and walk away. This usually invokes a lot of wailing and screaming. When that subsides I set a timer. Usually the time is about the same amount of time it took her to calm down and stop screaming. When time out is over I explain she went into timeout because she couldn’t listen. Then she is asked one last time to do whatever it is I asked her to do. If at this point she says no again, I usually say something along of the lines of, “Well that makes mommy sad because ….” and depending on the infraction or number of infractions that day I may change up her punishment. Again, notice the use of an emotion. Making mommy, or others, sad is something she is quickly learning to try to avoid. She currently understands sad and frustrated, so when I point out those emotions she wants to work to make someone happy or to help.
  • Finally, keep it short and sweet. They have the attention of, well, a two year old! “Mommy is sad because you got in trouble” “yeah” “You were in trouble for not listening” “yeah” “Think you can listen now so mommy won’t be sad and you won’t be in trouble?” “Yeah!”…Also, I may make her repeat a couple of those sentences just to try to really get it to sink in.

Of course if none of this helps, there is always duct tape!

 

 

 

 

Frustration is just…ARRRGGGHHHH

Ever been so frustrated you could just shake something? I’m having that type of moment and my cat just walked by. And honestly, it’s not love that is stopping me from brandishing him as a weapon. Though I do love the orange fur ball. It’s not even my abhorrence for animal cruelty that is keeping me from disturbing his jaunt through the kitchen. It’s the fact that I know this furry little asshole will vomit in my shoe if he even knew what I was thinking. I’d hate to think what he’d retaliate with if I even so much as just made his tail vibrate.

I have a two year old

and let me tell you that there are some activities that have just gotten interesting. Attempting to use the restroom by myself, for example. Well that went out the window months ago. There are other things that are fun to do though.

Baking is a good example. Little kids, at the least the ones I’m acquainted with, love to cook. With my little one, baking a pie is an “awesome” afternoon. I stand her up on a step stool, wrap her in a child’s apron, and we get crackin’.

Now if your little one is starting to show interest, here are some tips and tricks I have learned:

  • Whatever time the recipe gives for “prep” or “active” time, just double/triple it. This will be time consuming and messy, but tons of fun!!
  • Find “one bowl” recipes. Muffins, pumpkin pie, drop cookies, biscuits, pancakes, etc. These require a bowl and  a wooden spoon or whisk, which is a perfect toddler sized project.
  • Go ahead and use the food processor to make pie crusts. That “pulse” button will cause giggles and shrieks of joy. Plus it has helped with counting. “Okay sweet girl, we need to hit the button five times. Count with mommy! 1…2…3…4…5… Yay!” and this is usually followed with a high five. Or “gimme hand” as she likes to say.
  • Let them “scoop” the slow way. If something calls for a decent portion of flour, sugar, or any dry good, I hand her the measuring cup and a spoon. She then spoons the flour into the measuring cup. This will make a huge mess and seem to take forever, but she’s happy and super excited. “Look mommy, I do it!”
  • Any crusts that need to be rolled out, I let her “practice” by pushing the rolling pin around in flour by herself. Then when it is time to roll she helps me by placing her hands on top of mine.
  • Any “no roll” crusts she squishes in the pan with me at the same time. I will admit that I’ve had to warn people that the crust may be a bit “overworked” thanks to my helper, but to date no one has minded. It might be that some petite blonde with loads of curls hands them a pie that she made “all by myself!”.
  • When making muffins/cupcakes, she directs me as to which cup to fill with batter and which one needs a little more before we put them in the oven.
  • Sifters are the holy grail of baking according to toddlers. Granted the entire kitchen will be coated in a fine dust, but holy moly I never knew they were so fun.
  • Towards the end I make sure that one side of the sink is filled with soapy water as well as a few “safe” dishes. She then does the dishes because “a good Chef keeps their station clean”! (She may have seen Disney’s Ratatouille more than once.)
  • Finally, let them lick the spoon, then send them to play with daddy.

Happy baking!!

Does anyone else have one of those magnetic paper pads on their fridge? The ones typically used for grocery lists? I’m just wondering what they are actually used for because we have one. It has grocery type items written on it neatly. Yet I am out of eggs, I am out of bread, and currently I have 10 freaking pounds of potatoes.

Just curious.