How often do you hear people saying: “She’s in the Terrible Two’s” when they are rationalising their child’s behaviour? It’s a statement which is often heard.

Imagine for a moment… If I was your close friend, and I told you that you were going to have a bad day tomorrow, with the weather, the traffic, phone calls etc. Your brain would automatically go onto ‘red alert’ – you would enter the day, prowling for problems, ready for action. You would notice every little thing that was wrong with the day – the postman was late, the weather man got the prediction wrong, the coffee wasn’t as hot as it should be etc. When we ‘pre-condition’ our brain to see problems, we become almost like an expert in finding them – it’s as if we are wearing special ‘problem’ glasses which enable us to see all the problems in our day, and to hardly notice the things which go well, as we’re too busy looking for what’s wrong.

So, if you say to yourself and others: “My daughter’s in the Terrible Two’s” – your brain is already looking for proof of this ‘fact’ which you’ve told yourself. You will notice when she’s slow to come to the table, when she not listening to you (because she’s engrossed in her play), and when she’s rough with her toys etc.

The flip side of this is equally true – if you are looking for the ‘good’ in your child, and are wearing your special ‘goodness’ glasses – then you will notice all the good things she does – like putting her plate on the sink, saying ‘thank you’ and tidying up her blocks. The reality is, our toddlers are both….. doing things we like, and things we dislike, but we will notice more of the things which we’ve pre-programmed our brain to look out for.

Let’s re-name the “Terrible Two’s” to the “Terrific Two’s”.

Imagine what you would see then….. You’d see that they are learning lots of social behaviours like saying please, taking turns, waiting; they are beginning to learn rules such as wash your hands before dinner, stop at red traffic lights; their memory is improving – they recall where objects are, and that when they go past the big tree it means that they are nearly at Grandma’s house; their intellect is expanding to jigsaw puzzles and building taller block towers; their motor skills allow them to better use pencils to draw; and their vocabulary increases almost daily – so many great things – if we choose to notice them, and acknowledge that to the child. Does that mean they never do things which cause us stress – of course not….. these little people are learning so much, and being learners, they do make mistakes. If you (the parent) focus on what’s going well, then you encourage them to do more of that!

When a child sees a dandelion, they see fun – knowing how to gently blow it and watch the seeds drift in the breeze. Many adults will see the dandelion as a weed in the grass, which needs to be plucked out. Same object – different perspectives!

Which perspective do you take, in your approach to your toddler…. Are you wearing your “I’m looking for Terrible things” glasses, or your “I’m looking for Terrific things” glasses? The choice is yours.

— Image by Nana B Agyei via Flickr