I read this last night on a mum’s forum I’m part of:
“I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.”
From the diary of a 2-year-old:
Today I woke up and wanted to get dressed by myself but was told “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.”
This made me sad.
I wanted to feed myself for breakfast but was told,
“No, you’re too messy, let me do it for you.”
This made me feel frustrated.
I wanted to walk to the car and get in on my own but was told, “No, we need to get going, we don’t have time. Let me do it.”
This made me cry.
I wanted to get out of the car on my own but was told “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.”
This made me want to run away.
Later I wanted to play with blocks but was told “no, not like that, like this…”
I decided I didn’t want to play with blocks anymore. I wanted to play with a doll that someone else had, so I took it. I was told “No, don’t do that! You have to share.”
I’m not sure what I did, but it made me sad. So I cried. I wanted a hug but was told “No, you’re fine, go play”.
I’m being told it’s time to pick up. I know this because someone keeps saying, “Go pick up your toys.”
I am not sure what to do, I am waiting for someone to show me.
“What are you doing? Why are you just standing there? Pick up your toys, now!”
I was not allowed to dress myself or move my own body to get to where I needed to go, but now I am being asked to pick things up.
I’m not sure what to do. Is someone supposed to show me how to do this? Where do I start? Where do these things go? I am hearing a lot of words but I do not understand what is being asked of me. I am scared and do not move.
I lay down on the floor and cry.
When it was time to eat I wanted to get my own food but was told “no, you’re too little. Let me do it.”
This made me feel small. I tried to eat the food in front of me but I did not put it there and someone keeps saying “Here, try this, eat this…” and putting things in my face.
I didn’t want to eat anymore. This made me want to throw things and cry.
I can’t get down from the table because no one will let me…because I’m too small and I can’t. They keep saying I have to take a bite. This makes me cry more. I’m hungry and frustrated and sad. I’m tired and I need someone to hold me. I do not feel safe or in control. This makes me scared. I cry even more.
I am 2. No one will let me dress myself, no one will let me move my own body where it needs to go, no one will let me attend to my own needs.
However, I am expected to know how to share, “listen”, or “wait a minute”. I am expected to know what to say and how to act or handle my emotions. I am expected to sit still or know that if I throw something it might break….But, I do NOT know these things.
I am not allowed to practice my skills of walking, pushing, pulling, zipping, buttoning, pouring, serving, climbing, running, throwing or doing things that I know I can do. Things that interest me and make me curious, these are the things I am NOT allowed to do.
I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.”
The words of it really resonated with me. Toddler P is everything you want in a two year old, I couldn’t be luckier, she’s kind. She’s very clever, articulate for her age, she’s inquisitive and striving for her own independence. She’s actually easy to entertain because she just wants to be with you and to help you, pass her a cloth whilst you’re cleaning, let her hang washing with you, give her some ingredients and a spoon while you cook. She wants to join in, she wants to sing, she wants to dance, she wants to do it all. Yet I suppress this, sometimes because I have to, because it’s in the middle of Aldi, or a car park or I’ve not enough hands free to contain her, carry the shopping and allow her some controlled freedom.
What I do need to remember is that she’s just two, she doesn’t understand reasoning enough yet, she doesn’t get that the goal posts move and most of all she can not regulate her emotions yet.
She maybe astute and clever for a two year old, but she’s also still just two and the world is as fascinating as it is scary. So sometimes I’ve got to breathe and stop being the enforcer and be the nurturer. Sometimes she needs help not restriction, she needs understanding not punishment.
It’s all about balance, it’s about juggling the different roles and methods as a parent, sometimes it just has to be a flat no. Sometimes you have to ride the tantrum whilst they learn that, that behaviour will get them nowhere. Then sometimes you have to nurture and show love, even when they’re angry just because they don’t know how to deal with that emotion.
This knowledge is easy to comprehend as a parent, what’s difficult is knowing when to apply it, because let’s face it we’re not mind readers, so you’ve got to use a bit of trial and error. You might start with your ignoring tactic, or your calm nurturing approach or with your clear calm, Supernanny enforced clear boundaries and consequences but then have to switch, particularly out in public. At home is always easier, there’s always a naughty step, timeout or safe quiet distraction free space to hand, it’s safer, is familiar, private and contained. Out and about is more challenging, there’s more freedom, more distractions and enticing untouchables, there’s always an audience bearing down on you to see how you settle this battle, there’s always more risk factors. What tried and tested boundaries work at home, need tweaking out and about, you have to fly by the seat of your pants a lot more and see things from their perspective. They see you and others around you doing things and assume they can, pick that thing up/touch that item/walk over there/go in that room because they’ve seen a staff member or another customer do it, so why can’t they? Then this reasoning and explanation is beyond them and their understanding.
I hear and I acknowledge how hard things are for you sometimes little P and I’ll try to see things from your perspective more often little one. I’ll remember that walking down the street is more fun when skip and sing, I’ll remember that you like to join in and talk about the shopping list in the supermarket and I’ll remember that if you can help carry something or do a little job whilst mummy does her jobs then you feel like you’ve helped me and given me the Earth. I’ll keep trying.