My second son recently turned two. Friends have commented that my first son skipped the terrible twos. They presume my professional skill set will get us through them again. I don’t fancy my chances. This series of articles presents ten tips for negotiating this time with small ones. Know that with every strike of the keys I remind myself that advice is easy to give and hard to follow. I will be attempting to practice what I preach this coming year: wish me luck!
Have you heard the term ‘nominative determinism’? It is the idea that people live up to their names. What about people who say you have to call good things into your life? Or people who recite mantras in the morning?
We know that the words we say construct the social world around us. Basically if you say “the terrible twos,” it’s like making a request! And in using that phrase you pre-answer questions that deserve better exploring.
Why are they shouting? – Because they are two.
Why did they push their friend? – Because they are two.
In that phrase you remove your own willingness to reason, and jump straight to an assumption – the assumption being that the WHY behind their behaviour is: because they are two. Ironically you do this at the same time as requesting that said two-year-old become more reasonable.
Recent examples of conversations like this with my own son focus on why we cannot eat our cake and then the cake on everyone else’s plates, because it will make them sad!
In the coming articles we are going to be exploring a few of those whys. Actually when we understand what is going on behind the experience of being a two-year-old, some quite simple adjustments to the way we, as grown-ups, do things, can make for a more peaceful year (at least so I hope!)
But for now you might be thinking: it’s all very well to not say they’re terrible, but really, terrific? That’s pushing it a bit too far the other way isn’t it?
Actually some pretty terrific things go on when you are two. Top of my list would be you have more connections in your brain than you will have at any other time in your life. Your brain, aged two, is a criss-cross mesh of neural pathways, everything’s connected to everything in one big electrifying blur. This means that the world shines to you, it rings out to you, it is bright, and smelly, and loud, and feels so interesting to touch.
If you watch a two-year old you can see the effect of this incredible network of neurons as they study the smallest pebble, or follow a bug across the path (my son’s new word is “beetle” pronounced “bee cull”). To them, the world is spotlighted and in high definition, and singing out with perfect pitch.
Of course this criss-crossing network in other situations is a source of overwhelm, and we will get to that in these articles, but the magic of it is not to be overlooked. It truly is terrific to be two!
About the author:
Joanna Grace is an international Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, trainer, author, TEDx speaker and founder of The Sensory Projects.
Consistently rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted, Joanna has taught in
mainstream and special school settings, connecting with pupils of all ages and abilities. To inform her work, Joanna draws on her own experience from her private and professional life as well as taking in all the information she can from the research archives. Joanna’s private life includes family members with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions and time spent as a registered foster carer for children with profound disabilities.
Joanna has published four practitioner books: “Multiple Multisensory Rooms: Myth Busting the Magic”, “Sensory Stories for Children and Teens”, “Sensory-Being for Sensory Beings”, “Sharing Sensory Stories and Conversations with People with Dementia” and “The Subtle Spectrum”. Plus three inclusive sensory story children’s books: “Spike and Mole”, “Voyage to Arghan” and “Ernest and I” which all sell globally and her son has recently become the UK’s youngest published author with his book, “My Mummy is Autistic” which was foreworded by Chris Packham.