My son Justin is starting to assert his independence. He makes his own choices now from the snacks he wants to eat, to the beverage he likes to drink, to when he needs milk and if he needs more, to his choices of VCDs/DVDs to watch, and even to the shoes/clothes he’s going to wear when we go out. There are also times when he changes his mind over an earlier choice he made. When you don’t do as he pleases, he’d cry or throw tantrums.
An even more interesting development is he sometimes deliberately goes against our (his Dad and I’s) wishes or instructions. He does things that he knows we feel strongly against, such as playing with the DVD player or throwing his toys all over the house. These changes in behavior oftentimes leave me frustrated, and I’m often asking myself if I’m doing anything wrong with the way I’m raising my son. Is it me or what I do that makes Justin act this way? Have I been a bad mom, or is this just a phase he’s going through?
Then I remembered friends telling me before of the Terrible Two phase in a child’s development, sort of telling me to brace myself for a force to reckon with when that time comes. And I guess that time is now. Being a first-time mom, I’m really no expert when it comes to raising a toddler. And this change in my son’s behavior is something I’m totally not prepared for. So I did the next best thing. I researched on the topic to know more, and here’s what I found out.
For most children, the Terrible Two period starts from one-and-a-half and actually continues until three years of age. During this stage, children tend to do the opposite of what their parents want. They also have a hard time making the choices they want to make. This often results in children changing their minds over what they have earlier decided (www.drgreene.com). For example, your child may ask for milk, but after preparing that milk for him, he decides he does not want that milk and asks for juice or water instead. Toddlers are also quite prone to frequent mood changes and temper tantrums at this stage, not because they’re trying to be rebellious, but because they’re trying to express their independence but don’t have the language skills to articulate their needs (www.pediatrics.about.com).
Knowing this information actually makes me glad. It tells me I’m not doing anything wrong as a parent. And what’s equally comforting is the fact that this stage won’t last long. For the meantime, I’d read more on the topic to help me cope with my son’s behavior and to help him through this particularly difficult phase in his life.