Jacob turned two years old in July. What a happy little dude he is, until I say that horrible, despicable, awful word: “No.” It all happens in slow motion for me:
- His head tilts upwards
- He looks into my eyes
- His eyes begin to water
- He frowns
- A moan escapes his throat
- The moan takes on a higher pitch
- He’s yelling and screaming and running mad with rage
I’ve heard different things. Ignore him, let him know who’s boss, cuddle him while he fights your embrace, walk away and give us both space, etc. I try to think about how I feel when I’m told “No”. If I really want something, I consider asking “why?” and enter into a non-heated debate of opinions until I am satisfied with the explanation or get what I want.
But, a two-year old doesn’t have enough vocabulary to calmly sit down and have a good old debate. So all his feelings bubble up and he literally hits a boiling point. It makes complete sense to me. I can relate to him too. I feel the same way a few times a day as a homemaker. However, at my age, I’ve learned how to save the rage till after he goes to bed, then write in my journal or have a fist fight with a pillow while sobbing out all the bad feelings.
So how do I respond to the little demon who comes out when I say “No”? I try my best to be understanding. I don’t give in to what he wants (usually ice cream for breakfast or pretzels for lunch or to bring his entire wooden Thomas train set into the bath). I say “I’m sorry you feel sad, but we can’t do that right now.” Which usually brings on a whole new level of sobs. But I figure, it’s good for him. I do it, in private so I don’t freak him out, and feel like a new person afterwards.
His anger, and tantrums are totally normal. At two, I don’t think I need to teach him to “suck it up” I think he needs his feelings validated, felt and then to move on to playtime. Ignoring him? That’s not my style. I would feel absolutely rejected, defeated and unimportant if someone I love dearly paid no attention to me if I was sobbing.
He needs to know I love him, so much, that I won’t let him eat ice cream for breakfast, and that when he’s upset about it, mommy sympathizes with him.
This will all pass. I tell myself it’s just a season, like winter. Actually that’s the perfect season for “the terrible twos” – dreary and long, but often filled with absolute joy, excitement and carefree play.