14 Jul 2013

Terrible Two's

Lately we've noticed a behavioural change in Eli and as much as I accept children change constantly, the "change" we've been experiencing lately we've come to realise is here to stay a little longer. We thought about what it could be and it hit me one evening .... he's reached the "terrible two's."

It's not terrible at all. As in it's a milestone in their development. They've realised they have options, they're testing their boundaries and want some control - a progression not previously reached or realised. 

I think he may have reached this milestone a while ago, I was just not paying attention to the "signs" indicating this new phase. Signs such as:
  • Tantrums! Yelling or screaming back at me when he doesn't get his way. Alligator tears sometimes make an appearance so it looks like he's really upset but the moment you give him what he wants the crying stops.
  • Over use of the word "No!" by both mum/dad and Eli. To him the answer to every question is no and even when he wants to say yes he doesn't say no but moves his head in the other direction. We on the other hand begin every sentence with "No! Don't ...", "No! Eli ...", "No! Stop ..."
  • Sudden change in appetite. I've tried changing his menu but still he doesn't seem to eat as much as he use to. He's realised he doesn't have to finish the wholesome meal I've prepared and discovered chocolate, cookie and ice cream are a lot tastier. And he can say those three items very clearly too.  
  • Independence to want to do things on his own like feed himself, wash his own hands, brush his own teeth. That's great you might think, but adds time to getting ready or creates mess - basically additional work for me if I hadn't just assisted him instead.
  • Mr  Bossy pants. He's suddenly discovered how to get his way, is to boss you into doing it for him. And if you wont then expect a tantrum. 
  • Selective hearing. Previously he would help me put everything away now he ignores me but if I bribe him or suggest an activity we can do post helping me he seems to have heard me loud and clear.  
  • Threatening him with "time out corner" suddenly has no impact and once he's there he cries like its bloody murder.  
  • Increase in slapping, hitting and or banging objects with his hands. Even after asking him nicely to stop he finds it more amusing if he continues.  
So how does a parent deal with this new phase. I've been doing a lot of reading .. ok googling forums and unpublished advice. And the general answer is as a parent you need to look out for the signs and take control when it occurs. It's a time your child is discovering new things but finding it frustrating to explain or communicate what they want - hence the "terrible" behaviours.

Explain Boundaries: I've discovered this with Eli's sudden desire to imitate other kids with no fear. He'll climb up some play ground equipment designed for older kids or run towards the road when we first open the front door, he doesn't know where his boundaries are. As a parent you need to explain do's and don't and why. Why he can't climb the top of the juggle gym or why he can't just run off. Apparently expect to be repeating these conversations until they finally get it.  

Give Selected Options: They want to feel a sense of control so instead of telling them what to do give them options that allow them to choose what they want to do. For example this morning Eli was jumping on my back during breakfast. He obviously wants a piggy back but obviously this isn't the time so I explained this to him and asked him whether he wanted to sit next to me on another chair or sit on his couch? He chose to sit on his couch.   

Communicate: Only way they will understand boundary limits, right from wrong or get them to start to tell you what they want is to be constantly communicating with them. I've never heard the sound of my voice as much as I do now as a parent. Also if people have never heard me raise my voice spend an hour or two with Eli and I.  

Know When to Walk Away: Ultimately you are the parent, you control the situation and your child needs to understand this. So there will be some battles where you will need to put your foot down - so be prepared. I'm open to administering a good firm smack if the behaviour deserves it, that's how our parents did it back in the day.

So another discovery in mummy land, another milestone for my little boy. He turns two in a few days and it just makes me reaslise how quickly he's growing.

Some photographic evidences of this new milestone.
Tantrums anywhere ... he does not discriminate on location

 The world is not big enough for him. Always exploring and running around. 

 "I do it!" to feeding himself

Climbing equipment obviously too dangerous for him

Going down slides are over rated ... he is fearless. I, on the other hand had dashed over the first time I witness this
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