Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

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Terrible or Terrific… It’s All Perspective

terrible-or-terrific-journeyOnce my son turned two many people commented on the “terrible two” age. They shared how their child was when they were two. Many stories of the many things like coloring walls and tantrums in the mall. Many people have suggestions as well as ideas for discipline. I’ve been reminded about teaching no and wait time as extremely important tools for this age. As I think about all of the stories that people share I examine how most seem negative. After hearing about the turmoil of toddlerhood I begin to wonder what I am going to do with my children. So I did some deeper digging.

One of the first places I usually look to get development information is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) website. According to NAEYC, “toddlers (16 to 36 months) are working on their identity; they want to know who they are and who’s in charge.” After reading this my suspicions started to become reality. It’s all a matter of perspective. My two-year-old is working on establishing his identity and is experimenting with the boundaries of who is in charge.

The next thing I began to think about is what I can do to help him develop his “self” and practice decision making. Here are some things that we have found and have tried. It’s a journey; it takes time, so be patient.

  • When planning to do anything, try to allow for plenty of transition time to move onto the next thing. This can be hard when you are busy trying to get things done quickly but allow for your journey with your child to go on the road less traveled.
  • Work on your redirection skills, this can help set them up for success. These mini successes build self-esteem.
  • Allow for emotions to run their course. Help them talk through and handle what they are feeling. It’s hard from a child’s perspective when things don’t happen the way that they want. It’s hard for adults as well, but if we can help them learn how to recognize and regulate then we are giving them a huge tool for the future.
  • Finally, let them be in charge. Let them choose things especially things that they can easily handle and control. These are the beginning steps of being independent. When working around the house let them be part of what you are doing. Let them sweep or hold the dust pan. Give them a choice of which they want to do. Let them choose what they will wear for the day.

At the end of the day its all a matter of perspective and when I get down on his level and see things through his eyes, it’s better for both of us.


Fear Fest as Family Fun?

If you’ve ever read my blogs, you may know that I have a “wasband” (was + husband = wasband). As is often the case with divorced parents, we often don’t see eye to eye on parenting. It is not my intention to slam my ex in this post, but the truth of the matter is that divorced people are divorced for a reason. One of our reasons is that we don’t agree on several parenting issues.  That said, I work extremely hard at not letting the children know, see or feel this.

So, the controversial topic on my mind today is taking children to Fear Fest. If you’re from this area or familiar with it at all, you know that this event is held during the Halloween season at King’s Island. Being a natural born scaredy cat, I’ve never attended, but from what I’ve heard, it lives up to its name.

Considering that, I was not happy when my six and eight-year-old came home with tales from their trip to the fest. Apparently attending was the adults’ idea of a Family Fun activity. But I question whether or not it was fun for my son who was terrified that the ghouls and goblins he’d encountered at the fest were lurking outside his bedroom waiting to pounce should he try to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Needless to say, he chose to stay put in bed. You can imagine the end result.

Nor was I pleased to have my kids so wound up following their trip to King’s Island that they didn’t go to sleep until nearly eleven the next night. Both kept talking about werewolves, vampires and mummies who wanted to eat them. Even with all the talking, reassuring and praying that I did with them, their fears were not allayed. This was on Monday night. I can’t imagine what they were like the night they went home from the Fear Fest to their father’s house. There are lots of words my children used to describe their experience. Fun was not one of them.

Again, I’m not gunning for my ex. I’m just asking all parents of young children to consider what constitutes a fun family activity – especially during this season. Perhaps some adults have forgotten what it feels like to be a small child. What is obviously fake to us may seem very real to them. Expecting them to differentiate between the two is not developmentally appropriate. Nor is it fair.

Last year, while Trick or Treating in our neighborhood, my husband, my children and I encountered a house that was over the top with the scary decor. The kids were so petrified by the dead bodies dangling from trees and the corpse that flew at them from a zip line that they froze in their tracks. Their screams of terror reverberated into the night and sent chills up my spine. Seriously? I wanted to ask the adults in that house, Since when did Halloween become about scaring the living daylights out of small children who just want to dress up and get some candy?

It may sound like I’m being harsh, but I thought this holiday was more about fun for the kids than entertainment for the adults. I wish my children’s father had thought more along those lines when he planned to attend Fear Fest as Family Fun. But then again, I guess that’s one of the reasons he’s my wasband.

– Tammi

Photo courtesy of Brittany Randolph.