All parents feel excited and proud when they see their child taking a first step, saying their first word, celebrating their first birthday, and all other milestones. But the second birthday, however, is the most bittersweet of all milestones. We are excited and proud to see our child turn another year older, but at the same time begin to shudder at the thought of the terrible twos. Oxford dictionary defines terrible twos as “a period in a child’s early social development (typically around the age of two years) that is associated with defiant or unruly behavior”. As I consider this definition, however, I wonder why this particular two-year milestone is the only age that catches the most attention and fear from parents. The behaviors associated with the term terrible two are not only shown at the age of two, but actually can reemerge in different phases of childhood. The only differences are the underlying causes of the terrible two behaviors with the changing age groups.
We have all witnessed a child exhibiting the terrible twos. The other day I seen an adorable little toddler sitting in the shopping cart, with a smile on his face as his mother pushes him through the aisles of the grocery store. As she turns onto the cereal aisle, she reaches for the little boy’s favorite cereal with the cartoon tiger on the box. All of the sudden, the little boy’s smile fades and he starts screaming “NO, NO, NO” as he points to a cereal box on the shelve that is the same as the one the mother just picked up. As she tries to show him that it is the same as the box she is holding, his face begins to get red and tears are streaming down his cheeks. At this point, the little boy is having a full temper tantrum. He is kickin...
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...e trouble grasping the concept that they are not yet adults and capable of making all decisions for themselves, so they begin to exhibit terrible two like behavior as a sort of defense.
As you can see by the examples I have given of boys at different stages of childhood, the behavior is still “defiant and unruly” as the definition of terrible two states. While the age of the child and reasons behind the behavior change throughout childhood, they never truly outgrow the terrible twos. It is my opinion that the age of two isn’t necessarily as “terrible” as people say. In fact, other stages of childhood may deserve to be labeled the term “terrible” more than the two year olds. As parents, maybe we should stop fearing just that two-year milestone, and begin fearing all of our children’s developmental milestones that are associated with this defiant, unruly behavior.
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