I’ve never agreed with the idea of the “terrible twos” and now a former teacher, coach, and therapist has come out and said what many of us have long thought.
Tantrums are caused by lax parental discipline and unrealistic expectation rather than being an inevitable part of child development.
Gillian Bridge, in her new book The Significance Delusion says this behaviour is peculiar to the UK and the USA where there is an acceptance that toddlers’ frustrations are worked out in “semi-feral behaviour labelled the terrible twos” which doesn’t exist in many other parts of the world.
She says visitors to the UK are often baffled by misbehaving toddlers and either had higher standards of behaviour for their own children or were more indulgent of childhood without having expectations about a child’s self-control. Some thought Brits expected too much of their youngsters.
In more traditional cultures in Asia and Europe children are expected to learn quickly about hierarchies and the fact that adults had more rights than children because they had more knowledge, wisdom and experience. (Perhaps a lesson to be remembered as children get older and parents want to be their best friends on social media).
In Britain however toddlers are routinely taken to places where they are unlikely to behave well such as a pub or the cinema. “We take our children to an awful lot of places and get them to fit in with adult arenas which we wouldn’t have thought appropriate years ago” Bridge told the Times.
To make maters worse parents often ignore the ensuing meltdown or try to discipline them when their behaviour shouldn’t be unexpected in such environments.
She says this is apparent at the nursery gates where “harassed Mums and Dads … vainly attempt to restrain their struggling, squawking tinies or hopelessly give up on the attempt“. She says people view this almost as a rite of passage.
She added that parents are inconsistent and often didn’t behave to the standard they expected of their children.
Another so-called expert and super-many Jo Frost says these are the 5 areas where parents make mistakes.
Sleep – ensuring both parents and children get enough – and on a regular routine.
Food – establishing good eating habits and appropriate nutrition
Play – teaching children to socialise by playing and sharing
Screen time – no more than 30 minutes a day for toddlers
Manners – set a good example by behaving as you would like your children to behave.
I would include in that not smoking, getting drunk, or swearing in front of them – or is that too blindingly obvious?