I’ve been meaning to pen this for the longest time but each time I find myself starting a post, I stare blankly at the screen and wonder how on earth I am going to begin writing.
So. Let’s try now.
We all know that two-year-olds are like a different breed of animal altogether. They are unpredictable, prone to crazy tantrums, demanding and temperamental. That’s why everyone calls it the “terrible twos”. But really, it’s not just the twos that drive us all crazy, it’s EVERY AGE. Or rather, certain phases within each age.
According to child psychologists Drs Ames and Ilg, kids at whole ages (think 2, 3, 4 etc) tend to be cycling towards equilibrium. This means that they are happy, loving, affectionate, secure children. This is when parents pat themselves on their backs smugly and think, I have a unicorn child!
But they do not stay in equilibrium forever. Instead, as they head towards the half ages (think 2.5, 3.5 etc) they cycle away from equilibrium and towards disequilibrium. This is when everything goes awkward and disjointed. Think of a minor chord played on the piano, it sounds jarring and painful to the ears. That’s how disequilibrium is. Tantrums, separation anxiety, eating issues, sleeping issues…you name it, it’s all part and parcel of this phase.
What this means is, you will have a wonderful, adorable child at 2 years old. But six months later, it is likely that the same wonderful and adorable child has turned into a different creature. Then, as that monster heads towards 3 years of age, he/she will morph back into the delightful child you knew you had. And the equilibrium/disequilibrium cycle continues.
When Aidan was about 21 months or so, he was a delightful child – happy and verbal and funny and sweet. A few weeks before Zac’s birth, he was even sleeping through the night. And I thought, YAY!
The arrival of Zac threw everything into disarray and the month that followed was rather difficult, in terms of managing Aidan’s temperament. And then we were on the slippery slope towards disequilibrium.
Right now, a month shy of Aidan turning 2.5 years old, we are starting to see a whole lot of hair-pulling behaviour. He doesn’t go to bed easily at night, wakes up more than usual, wants mama and ONLY MAMA to comfort him, is fussy with food, screeches throughout his bath, refuses to brush his teeth, and has regressed in terms of potty training. There are all sorts of odd tantrums and, guiltily, we have lost our cool with him more than once.
He is mostly a happy child but when the outbursts occur, they are very intense and long-drawn. Which makes it frustrating for us. I haven’t been sleeping much because I am kept awake at night by either Zac’s feeds or Aidan’s need to be physically close to me.
But thankfully, knowing what I know now, I tend to be more patient and empathetic. Oh don’t get me wrong, there are times when I am all YOU BATHE BECAUSE I SAY YOU MUST, YOU SMELLY LITTLE THING but most days, we try to reason with him.
The good news is, he will be cycling towards equilibrium after this so…hurrah?
Now, I hardly read parenting books these days – HATES THEM – but the only ones that I do read are The Wonder Weeks and the Ames & Ilg series. Trust me, read them. Nay, DEVOUR them. They will help you to understand your child so much better.