I know this blog has already dedicated considerable space to the topic of The Terrible Twos, the considerably terrible than anything before behavior that two (to three?) year olds tend to exhibit. But I will still dedicate a bit more space to the phenomenon, simply because a couple of days ago we’ve encountered what has been by far the worst exhibition of the Terrible Twos syndrome thus far.
It wasn’t just a short term tantrum. For more than fifteen minutes, our two and a half year old Dylan threw himself in a fit involving him applying all the strength he could muster against us while being totally ignorant of the damages that he could be inflicting upon himself. In the bath, for example, he was doing his best to lie down – with his head under the water and his nose up – as I was struggling to hold him back while, at the same time, doing my best to avoid hurting him.
I know that this is all to do with the developing brain, some areas of which are not as up to date as others and neurons firing blanks and all that. But it still doesn’t change the obvious fact that no matter how good your intentions are and no matter how carefully and deductively you approach parenthood, you are still going to get a slap in your face when your kid reaches the Terrible Twos. Again I can only observe that no matter what others say about it, parenthood is far from being rewarding. It’s probably the reason why so many people say it is: they need to convince themselves this is the case even if it isn’t in order to be able to tolerate the punishment.
The question is how to deal with the problem while still keeping the main targets in sight: providing our child with an overall happy childhood and helping him grow to become a decent person. Personally, I don’t know the answer; what I can say is that I am not at all convinced that applying physical force or keeping your child on a tight leash are the best ways to go.
What I will do, for now, is avoid judging other parents when I see their child going through the motions of a tantrum. Those of us that are not parents (including me up until not that long ago) who are exposed to children's tantrums tend to think along the lines of “what can you expect from such idiots [parents]”, but the reality is these things will happen regardless of how good the parents are.