I was planning on writing about the “Terrible Twos” yesterday, but I had so much to say on the topic that I had to do another post in it’s place and break this one up into two parts. That means tweaking my entire 31 days plan. That is how important this topic is to me! 

For the past 20 days I have been talking about some Teachable Parenting methods that rely heavily on Love and Logic principals. The problem is, I know that myself, most of my friends, and many of my readers have preschool age children and the rules of logic don’t apply to them. Well, they do the little ones just haven’t gotten the memo yet. Hope is not lost though, and over the next two days I am going to be focusing specifically on toddler age children. Even if you don’t have toddlers it could give some insight for when you are around them or their exhausted parents. 

I feel like I have read it
all and seen it all, but when it comes to the tricks that stick with toddlers I
can’t tell you one specific thing that I have had consistent success with. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t looking
for solution to the long term goal as much as I was hoping for a “get out of
jail free” card. I’m entering my third round of toddlerhood with my youngest and even though there are parts I am dreading, I feel like this time I am more
prepared than ever. It’s not because I think I know how to fix it, but rather (as
with the theme of this series) I know that I can’t. It is going to take a lot of
patience, a lot of prayer, and a good deal of Ben and Jerry’s therapy. I have
always said God had to balance this age out because they are so stinking cute. 

it wasn’t for all the headache and heartache we might just spoil them to pieces and they wouldn’t learn any boundaries at all. What good would that be? This
is the perfect age for them to see cause and effect by pushing every button and
testing every limit.

I so often see moms posting
questions on social media or discussing in real life concerns about how their
cute little tyrant is misbehaving and the mother is despretaly seeking a solution (get out of
jail card). Sometimes there is one, but most of the time the answer is “this too shall pass”. It’s not that you ignore the child’s
needs, your needs, or the learning opportunity that is there, but at the risk
of sounding like the worst parenting advice ever, set your expectations low
until they are 5. In the book Wild Things there is a chapter called The Explorer which deals with advice for boys of this age (2-4) and it says, “Because of where he is in his development, an Explorer is incapable of self-regulating. A common mistake that parents make with Explorers is to place unrealistic expectations on them to control their own behavior. Requiring high levels of self-control at this stage only sets up an Explorer for failure. This is the one part of the journey of boy-hood where we need to expect less from boys and be pleasantly surprised when they self-regulate. We are not suggesting that you have no expectations, just realistic ones.” 

 I know people where age two was a breeze, but three was
hard. I’ve seen the tantrum stage last from 1-4. A lot of people find tremendous
breakthrough at the age of four, but then others swear it’s the climax. If you
say that 5 was your worst stage or anything above that, well then you are just
dealing with a different issue entirely.

I am not saying that 5 is
easy peasy for everybody, but there are a lot of physical and mental changes
that take place by this age. A 5 year olds behavioral issues compared to a 3
year old is apples and oranges. I have learned a great deal about neurological
pathways since my daughter was diagnosed deaf. I wrote a whole piece about the
science of language, which is pretty darn fascinating if you ask me. This
applies to more than just language though. Did you know that a two year old has
double the amount of connections your adult brain does? No fair, right? We all
start out with trillions of neurological pathways and as I mentioned when I
blogged about language, you use it or loose it. So while you see your toddler
busy dumping out a box of cereal, watching Doc Mcstuffins, or napping, their minds are super busy doing neural pruning. This is a really important stage for
learning. It’s all about repetition, routine, limits, and social skills, and NOT academics focused, although I’ll save that for another post. Anyway, the whole point is their brains are still forming and
developing up to age 4, but ESPECIALLY in the first 3 years of life. From what I have researched, the part of the brain that regulates the emotion and controls social behavior (the prefrontal cortex) is one of the last areas to develop and this starts around age 4. Surprise, surprise! 

 By age 5 (without going into detail) things are pretty well set developmentally and your 5 year old has the same brain they will have their entire life. Now they just have to mature and fill it up with the
wisdom and knowledge that comes with time.

Anyway Dr. smarty pants
Michael Potegla, Ph.D. pediatric
neuropsychologist has several years of research and he concludes that you can pretty
much anticipate this “out of control” behavior from about 18 months to 4 years.
If you read the entire article on Parenting.com you can learn more about the
mechanics going on inside that tiny nogen and as mentioned in the book Wild
 “Understanding how your children’s bodies work and develop is a form of
lowing them well.” I couldn’t agree more.

So fear not fellow parents, you are not crazy and your stubborn toddler is not a lost case. They are at a fascinating important stage of development where a potential side effect is grey hair for you. I’ve got a few tips to help get through it though and I’ll have part 2 of toddlerhood tomorrow. Hang in there.

This is day 20 of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE.