A mother told me that her one-year-old finally reached age two. That's the good news. The bad news is she thought his body must have been taken over by another person. She asked me if the "terrible two's" is a real phenomena. Her dependent one-year old, upon mastering the art of talking, began saying "No!" to rational requests...all the time! She, like many parents of two-year olds, wonder if this is just a stage and what they can do about it.
Yes, the "terrible two's" is just a stage for many, and I believe humor will get you through this transitory stage in child development. I’ve known past two-year-olds who didn't say "No!" to their parents- they announced "No way!"
If you are a parent or guardian of such a transitioning child, remember that it is a necessary stage your child must travel through. After all, the force of gravity heretofore confined his world to your lap and the carpet. But, your two-year old has defeated the confines of gravity and is driven to explore the world to the utmost. Your child is now bent on establishing independence and testing the unsullied confines of your mind’s center for composure, sacrifice, temper-control, and fortitude.
So, it is important that you do not give in to his every whim, or anarchy will result. Unfortunately, a sizable number of parents instantly bow to their two's every impulse. My last twos "study" took place at a grocery store in Rocky River, a western suburb of Cleveland. I witnessed, while mom and subject were waiting in the checkout line, a tiny hand snatch a candy bar from the rack. As the feast began, Mom said, "No! Wait until we get home." But, when the subject earsplittingly replied, "NO! I want now!", mom acquiesced. Of course mom was under public scrutiny, and her two-year-old knew it. Still, delay of gratification wasn't taught in that brief scrimmage for power.
I propose that every retail store in Cleveland measure out 100 square feet of floor space and anchor down a sign which advertises, "Terrible Two's Time-out Zone." The mental health of beleaguered parent shoppers will upgrade instantaneously. Just remember parents, your two-year-olds desperately need you to continue setting limits and construct fences, not to give free rein; to give them things a while later and not in a jiffy; and to be very loving, benevolent... dictators.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Questions or comments? Contact him at the Family Journal.