When people ask me how old JW is, and I tell them 2.5, they inevitably respond, “Oh, the terrible twos!” No”, I say, “I like to call them the TERRIFIC Twos!” Yes, he has tantrums and is starting to exert more independence, but I think that’s terrific, truly! I’ve actually learned a lot so far by watching him be a two-year-old.
It feels good to have a tantrum every now and then. We learn at a young age to not express our feelings out loud, especially if they are perceived as negative. But crying and screaming can be terrifically therapeutic. If you don’t believe me, try screaming at the top of your lungs the next time you are alone in your home or car. Or try it right now! Doesn’t that feel better?
The people that matter will still love you when you express your feelings of frustration and anger. There is nothing that my son could say or do that would change how much I love him. Once he’s done screaming and throwing himself on the ground and calms down, I like to give him a great big hug and kiss. I’ve discovered that sometimes honestly expressing my feelings can be a catalyst for much-needed change.
I have tantrums everyday in my head. At some point we stop tantruming out loud, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still screaming inside. JW says things out loud that I usually only dream of saying in the presence of other humans. Maybe I can’t always say what’s bothering me out loud, but it’s a good idea to get it out somehow before things bubble over. Journaling is a tool that I never use enough. Talking to a friend or praying are other healthy outlets for getting it out.
I can try new things. Think about it, we’re constantly asking our kids to take a chance on new things like vegetables, toys, doctors, restaurants, clothes, routines, the list goes on. Kids ask us to do new things all the time too, like singing The Wheels on the Bus to keep them awake on the car ride home or helping them to find the monsters in the living room. The point is, it’s never too late to try something new. Hmmmm, now to figure out what that might be.
Naps are a nice way to reboot. OK, so I didn’t really learn this from my two-year-old, but I bet lots of moms may have forgotten this one. Sometimes when so many things are going on at once, the only way to reboot my brain is to take a nap. Same for my two-year-old. Everything looks different after a nap. When’s the last time you took a nap? I take one everyday while my son is napping, so when I leave a playdate to get him home for a nap, guess what? I’m going home to nap too!
Things don’t need to be perfect to be good or good enough. Sure, I can dress my son quicker than he can do it himself, but he doesn’t learn anything from that. I can put him in his car seat, but he can climb in there just fine by himself and click the buckle (as long as I get the straps on correctly). I can carry him up the stairs in less time than it takes him to climb, but that doesn’t build his muscles or his confidence. Sometimes letting your kid do things on their own can be so hard as a parent, but it’s what helps them to learn and grow. It’s not always perfect or pretty, but it’s all part of life. Likewise, I have to cut myself some slack too. The house is nowhere near perfectly clean, but right now there are more important things to attend to. Just like I do with my son, I can celebrate when I do something well, or even attempt to do it well, and the rest will get better over time.
What has your terrific two-year-old taught you?