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Terrible Twos

by Jillian Livingston

I really would like to know who termed the phrase, "Terrible Twos". The terminology does not apply to boys or girls at the age of two. In my experience, parenting "terrible twos" is a lot of fun.

Two year olds are the cutest, most precious, lovable creatures on earth. They have huge, innocent smiles revealing a minimal amount of baby teeth. They love to throw their hands into the air and make gleeful, adorable noises that need to be boxed and sold at a high price to the movie industry. They are kissed to death by their family and love every minute of it. They put their little heads down with their bottoms in the air and hug their attached toy or blankie when they are tired. They are scrumptious, delicious, soft and round with rosy cheeks and most of all, they love their parents.

Terrible Threes

Mum with child
When they're two, they're most adorable and love their parents
Than suddenly WAM they turn into three and a half year olds and all bets are off. This is perhaps where the terminology should apply in my experience, if maybe changed to Terrible Threes, instead of terrible twos.

At three and a half, they are deceiving because they still have their big, round faces and look like little edible cherubs but they turn into screaming Whirling Dervishes at the drop of a hat. It is time for them to try to do everything on their own.

Were we warned of this? It's not as if we are given a time line to follow when the child is born which prepares us for each passing phase.

Independent Phase

If there were a timeline I could forewarn Wade that the independent phase is approaching. We would start practicing our patience and train ourselves to include an extra three hours in the day to allow them to practice buckling their own car seat, put their shoes on their wrong feet, make their own breakfast, push the shopping cart etc.

Strangers do not make handling toddlers any easier. Once, on the ferry to Nantucket I asked Brevitt if he was done with his “wemonade”. He said yes and so I stupidly but happily drank the last sip. Big mistake, his behavior astounded everybody. I overheard a passenger ask if somebody could throw that kid off the boat and I couldn't blame him. In fact, that thought had just crossed my mind.

Child playing with a toy truck
Encourage your child's independence and creativity early on, when they start playing with toys. Get them to do simple, yet important things on their own.

Tolerable Fours

Things have gotten more tolerable with Tucker since he hit the age of four. Our new challenge is to teach him to stop screaming. We are all very accommodating to our spoiled third child for if we upset him we will suffer the brain-piercing scream that leaves our ears ringing for hours. We tell him that if he continues to scream at us we will soon all be deaf and than he will be SOL. That just makes him scream louder.

The good news is that he now puts on his own shoes and has mastered buckling the car seat. In addition, he has started to cook with me, wash the dishes, set the table and unload the groceries. The chores are performed slower and with less efficiency but they do get done and I love having an adorable boy attached at my hip who wants to help me. I have had enough time, after three boys, to practice my patience and I am able to slow down and appreciate my four year old and all that comes with his age.

Terrible Twos Advice

Little boy playing on beach
As your child grows, it will become more independent, but also demanding. Be firm and show who's the boss.
My advice to all of this? Don’t be manipulated by your toddler. When he/she demands TV or candy first thing in the morning, do not give in to them. Ride out the impossibly irritating melt downs and calmly let them know who is boss. Give them their options for food and be creative for play time.

As for television, it only turns them into uncreative, bored, mindless, whiny monsters when they are through with watching. You may get that blessed hour to yourself but you will pay for it later.

Get the blocks or the trains out for them or put on a CD that plays their favorite music or story. After all, they are smart but you are older and wiser.

Don’t be lazy. Take the time to listen and communicate. Once you start on this path you and your child will be a lot happier.

Hopefully with this advice you'll make it through the terrible twos, threes and fours, enjoying the life, your children growth, and all that life offers with it.

About the Author

Jillian Livingston writes a daily humorous account of raising three young boys - Isdisnormal.com. Her blog is an optimistic guide for mothers and fathers. It helps them to realize the positive and humorous aspects of raising children.

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