How smart handling of the Terrible Twos makes them Terrific

The Terrible Twos? What a myth you may laugh especially when your angelic little baby is sleeping in his crib. But, believe it or not, as the baby grows up, his personality changes. There is a marked difference between how baby behaved at a year and how he behaves when he turns two. Believe it or not, almost miraculously there is a personality change in the second year of life. And don’t fret, this is inevitable and this too shall pass like the midnight walks, the trapped burps, the aching ear and so many other “incidents” that kept you awake all night.

For the past month, we noticed a distinct change in P’s behaviour. From someone who enjoyed eating his vegetables, he started developing a dislike for them and could judiciously spit out only the green and veggie part from a morsel of food! His normally sunny disposition acquired shades of  a whine and he soon realised the power of the tantrum to get his way.  We were perplexed at this personality change and tried to guess what could be the matter. Now that all his teeth were out, there was no question of “teething problems.” Similarly, since he was quite active on his feet, there was no question of discomfort with gasses in the tum. So what could it be?

A friend of mine who is not a granny but a trained Montessori school teacher told me that little P must be a bit overwhelmed by some changes in his life. I thought about it and realised she was right.

Image credit: Ben Earwicker Garrison Photography, Boise, ID

There were two major changes in his life that we had quite forgotten about:

  • Coping with the loss of his playmate- With all of us at home being incapable of keeping up with P’s energy levels, and with the prospect of him going to kindergarten looming ahead of us, we had employed a young lady to keep him company and help in his care. Sadly she had to leave after two months and it was this loss of a playmate that added to his angst.
  • Change in routine – P is one of those lucky children who has all his family staying within a five mile radius so we felt that he should enjoy their company as well and set up a roster of playdates with different families. While he enjoyed this activity, at some level it was a change from his normal routine and this completely threw him out of gear.

So it would seem that in order to cope with the terrible twos and make them terrific, do not introduce any changes in a two-year-old’s life – Try to keep things more or less the constant or at least keep some leeway for him to adjust. This applies not only to routine but also to the environment. Changing the arrangement of furniture can also set off anxiety.

Accept the fact that a two-year-old is now an independent little being who loves imitating the elders around him. Allow him to help with simple tasks like watering the plants, fetching the newspaper or even calling people to the table when dinner’s ready!

Let the two-year-old experience his sense of self and let him discover the world in his way……..that way the terrible twos can become terrific for all of you!



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