Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Terrible Twos

Before I was a dad, back when I had less of an idea than I do now, I used to think that the ‘terrible two’s’ actually commenced when a child reached the age of 2. Crazy, I know.

So, through the first 12 months I have been cruising along thinking to myself that all of the ups and downs we have experienced are good prep for the ‘terrible two’s’. I have also been contenting myself with the belief that we were still a ways off that marker, you know, James is 15 months, take that from 24 … we are still 9 months off him becoming a monster.

What’s that I hear? I think it might be the sound of parents down through the eons of human existence laughing out loud. I know, I know, again I’m guilty of being naïve, but give me a break, James is our first and I’m kinda learning on the run.

Courtesy of the clinical trials that James has been running and the observations that he has allowed me to make, I have acquired new knowledge in this subject area. So this is what I now know. Just as babies learn to walk gradually, or just as speech requires a progressive development, so too does their understanding of how to crack a wobbly.

“It is through a series of incremental, yet precise developmental stages through which the subject is able to suitably adapt their behaviour in order to finally exhibit the complete ambit of traits that are associated with the ‘terrible two’s’.”

Well, that’s how it would look if I were writing some scientific tome on the subject. So, what does all this mumbo jumbo mean? It means that my 15 month old toddler is becoming, how should we put it … disagreeable. My mother on the other hand would probably describe it as him developing a sense of independence.

In order to support my hypothesis I’m aware that you require some evidence of James’ change in behaviour.

James has always been a terrific eater. He has been happy to ingest all food prepared for him and consequently he has grown very well indeed and has been near the top of the class in the weight for age category. (That’s the proud parent coming out in me). Lately, however, he has not been such a good eater, spitting food out, throwing it on the floor, pursing his lips, turning his head away, waving his arms and generally saying ‘no thankyou’.

I had been prepared to put that behaviour into the ‘fickle eater’ category but when coupled with other new characteristics you will see a pattern emerging.

As previously recorded in an earlier blog, James has learnt the word association of ‘ta’ as a request for whatever the object is that is in his line of sight. As we know, there are some things that 15 month olds should not be allowed to handle, scissors, hydrochloric acid, dynamite … James, unfortunately doesn’t understand this and no matter how gently the negative position is put him, it can suddenly and inexplicably result in tears, bottom lip quivering and shrieks that make you consider giving him that acid just to stop the noise.

In the past there have been all sorts of things that James has mildly object to, but of late, his objections have become louder, more forceful and sustained. Previously I would put these responses down to a tired baby who needed a sleep. These days I know it’s just a toddler who is frustrated that he cannot communicate what he wants. But all the same it can drive you mental.

So, with this epiphany realised by myself, my question for the experts is this: By its name, i.e. ‘terrible two’s’, I was lead to believe that this stage lasts for the period between their 2nd and 3rd birthday. Since this is clearly not the case, as it has commenced prior to James’ 2nd birthday, for how many years will my son exhibit symptoms of terrible two-ism?

Signed: Confuddled Aussie House Dad


  1. Ok so here is where consistency & persistancy begins...& continues! It's tiring. A wise person once told me that 'terrible two's' can start anytime after their 1st birthday as they are actually in their second year of life!

  2. My son is only 17 months, but the terrible two's have definitely set in. The testing. The laughing when he's doing something for the tenth time that he's been told not to do, etc. Amazing how quickly they adopt mischievousness.

  3. Parenting, its fun but tiring. I'm actually having one of those days today, thankfully James is having an afternoon nap at the moment. I'm trying to work on the naughty corner and I'm conscious of using a stern voice because it seems to come across like I'm shouting and James mimics it. And then you have negative body language like scowls and of course there's the smack or no smack debate. I'm in need of the handbook today ... or a lie down