I cannot believe I am actually looking back into the eyes of the Year That Was Two, and saying “thank you.” Surviving the terrible two’s were a full-on struggle for our family. Just about every day there were tears (sometimes from each and every family member). But there was also so much GOOD. I know that sounds crazy, so just hang with me here for a second. My husband and I chose to learn while we rode the roller coaster that was the “Terrible Two’s” (funnily enough, we never once thought of them as terrible). We read books (and let’s be honest, I am the reader and he got the Cliff’s notes and suggested ways for handling and approaching things) , we spoke to friends, we scoured the Internet, we spent time with two amazing play therapists, we texted our friends and family (a lot of the time with tears running down our faces; I am the crier here).
Overall, we did not stop seeking information, we did not settle, we knew that we needed to grow and learn as parents if we were going to help our boy navigate the hardest year of his life yet. I can honestly say that I am a better mother after riding the wave of the (not so) terrible two’s. I hope that by sharing a tiny bit of our adventure, it can help you really appreciate your kiddo for exactly who he/she is right now in their life.
How To Survive The Terrible Two’s (And Maybe Enjoy Them)
- Lower your expectations. It is very unfair to your kid and yourself to expect more than frankly they are even capable of. It is so easy to see our two year olds as big kids now: they speak so well, they move so fast, they potty train, they sleep through the night (maybe even in big kid beds), they basically do so many amazing & big kid things. But at the end of the day, they are still very much a baby. Do yourselves a favor and lower your expectations down a few notches, meet them exactly where they are, not where you think they should be.
- Be prepared to hug them and coddle them for what will feel like the most ridiculous things (all.the.time). While these things seem so silly to us, they are everything to them. What seems so small to us is so huge to them. Give them your respect and treat their “issue” with love and tenderness. Maybe you’re tired of kissing random body parts every few minutes or having to just sit there and hug your baby as yet another emotional wave hits them. But those 50 kisses and five-minute hugs are exactly what they need. They just need you to be there and empathize with them.
- Help them put words to what they are feeling. We all know that kids feel things fiercely. But the tricky part is that they really don’t understand what they feel quite yet. They need you to help them name their emotions. I promise the more time you put in saying things like, “I see you are feeling very sad” or “You seem frustrated right now” etc., the better your kids will be at identifying not only their emotions, but those of others.
- Speak to them, not at them. Although they are small, they are people, too. Make eye contact, physically connect to them with a touch, get at their level, just make sure they know you are fully invested in the conversation/moment. By showing them well-deserved respect, they will turn around and show you the same.
- Hear (see) them, really hear (see) them. I do not just mean their words, because again this is a big learning year for expressing themselves, but “hear” them by truly seeing them. Stop what you are doing and give them 100% of yourself. When you are able to really look at your kiddo, their surroundings, the moments leading up to right now, and the moments after, you are truly able to understand them a little better. It is incredible what we can miss by not being fully present.
So to this last year, this long (but somehow short) year of having a two year old, I thank you. I will forever look back at this year and feel intense exhaustion, frustration, emotion, and so many other feels. But most of all I am full of gratitude. I am grateful that you showed up exactly how you did, because now I can say our family unit is better off because of you.