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August 22, 2019

I Do Not Believe in the Terrible Twos

Gus is right in the middle of what some people might call "the terrible twos." Most of the time when we're out in public and people ask how old he is and I tell them it is usually followed by "aren't two year olds the worst?" or "ahh, the terrible twos." There is almost a universal expectance that two-year-olds are somehow just horrible. 

Montessori Parenting: Forget the Terrible Twos

And, I just feel like I have to say, I completely reject that. I LOVE 2-year-olds. They are amazing, curious, exploring, tiny humans. They have so many unique ideas and are open to so many possibilities. They are opinionated, they are passionate, they are truly at such an amazing time in human development. Yet, all we see are the difficult moments. 

I fully admit there can be some difficult moments as the parent/caregiver of a two-year-old. But, in those moments, we need to change our expectations as adults. We are perfectly willing to accept this myth of the "terrible twos" and see them as throwing a fit. But, by shifting our thinking - your child is not a "big girl/big boy" but your child is a very small human trying to figure out a very big world - we can make everything so much easier on ourselves and our child.

Thoughts on why I don't believe in the "terrible twos" and how to shift our own thinking toward normal 2-year-old behavior.

We need to be support people and see our children's emotions as a regular part of the human existence - one that they are working very hard to learn how to control. We need to be the compassionate voice of reason, and remember that they are lacking the control (physically within their brains) to handle these big feelings and they often don't even have the language to express what they are feeling. We can often help the situation simply by acknowledging the feels, and providing support. It can help us too because we don't feel this need to "fix," change, or muddle through this process, but embrace it as a new developmental stage.

Prepare Yourself; Prepare Your Environment

Maria Montessori was very clear that a child's reactions are often caused by a disruption in their environment toward their natural path of development. That roadblock could be caused by their need for independence, a language frustration, or something that is messing with their sense of order. These can be very frustrating for a small child. It's unreasonable to expect otherwise. 

It is OUR OUR OUR (and one more time because its so important OUR) job as the adult to prepare the environment to meet our child's developmental needs. It is not our 2-year-olds job to always keep it together.

We need to take a hard look, through observation, to understand why a disruption is happening, and think about ways to change our environment - including ourselves,  as the prepared adult - to meet those needs. Do we need to offer more appropriate choices? Does our child need more opportunities for practical work or independence? Does our child need more opportunities to exert maximum effort? 

Thoughts on why I don't believe in the "terrible twos" and how to shift our own thinking toward normal 2-year-old behavior.

When we can shift our own expectations and make observations and changes to our environment, we can see our 2-year-olds in a whole new light. In the good times, and the tough ones, we can see just what amazing humans they are! 


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M. said…
AMEN. 2-year olds are my favorite people. I rejoiced being done with the first year and I'll rejoice when I'm done with age 4, but there's nothing better than a 2-year old.
Chielse said…
Although my son isnt two yet, this so resonated with me! He's 14 months and I'm going back to work. He started at a lovely, small day home, but is having a hard time with sleep and separation anxiety. I needed a reminder that this is an understandable reaction to a major transition and change in his environment! How could he not have a reaction? Although there is nothing I can do to change the fact that I have to return to work, I can increase his maximum effort work and show more compassion for his feelings and struggles. Thank you for this!
mike hussey
mike hussey said…
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