Sunday, January 29, 2012

The "C" Word

It has arrived at our house, once again.

The phase known to most as the "terrible twos".  Truth be told, I have always found three to be more challenging, but there are times in the life of a two year old that leave those in authority over him to think it a "terrible" phase.

I am certain that it is by God's perfect design that along with the challenges of parenting a toddler go the joy-filled and most adorable moments.

I, for one, couldn't bear the thought of missing out on the little guy folding his chubby hands, confidently offering up his sincere prayers to "Dear Dog" in order to be spared the wails of the same little one at bedtime on a day without a nap.  Or to miss out on little arms spread and held up high, the little voice exclaiming, "HOLD YOU PEAS!"  (Translation: Hold me please!) in order to avoid the inevitable mess under the high chair and the sticky fingers that no matter how many times they're wiped find their way to my favorite articles of clothing.

It's for these reasons, and many others, that I dare not call two terrible.

How does one parent through the trying times of two?

The answer is found in one word.


He must know that you mean what you say and you say what you mean.  Both your words and actions must match.  A toddler is brighter than he may appear.  He will not easily be sucked in by empty threats of punishment.  We must follow through, and discipline must be immediate - not a looming future threat.

Most often, the fussing of a two year old is a test.  He needs structure and limits.  He naturally will test those limits consistently, and it's our job as parents, to consistently train him to not cross them.

Only with consistent training will the little one eventually learn the limit, and learn that you are serious about upholding it.

Further, consistent prayer is needed as we train our little ones.  We need a constant supply of patience and grace as we fulfill the call to train our children well.

We have a struggle in our house lately.

Little Noah does not love bedtime.  He likes his bed, he loves the room he shares with big brother Elijah, and he loves his favorite blankets.  He goes down just fine.  He settles in, but then boredom sets in if sleep does not.  He then thinks maybe he'll peek out the door to see what he's missing.  He knows the limits of our home enough to know that discipline awaits on the other side of the door, should he venture out without need.  Regardless, he tests from time to time to be sure that limit still applies.

Thankfully, once he is asleep, he's all set aside from the occasional bad dream or soaked-through diaper, but oh the frustration of returning to that bedroom time and again to lay him back down and tuck him back in. There are evenings when there are things to be done, evenings when Dan is home and we would like to simply relax in peace.  Other nights when Dan is out and I am just waiting for days end to pick up that book I've been reading now for several months!

I know from experience, however, that the book can wait.  The chores, if done tonight, will just need doing again tomorrow, and if Dan is home I have at least the benefit of good company in consistent training and discipline and I am only then responsible for every other tuck in.

As with all phases, this one too will pass - and it will pass all too quickly!  I have learned that with consistent training, the child will learn.  He will find safety and security in the limits set and one day just around the corner, I will realize it's been a while since I've had to return to that bedroom to guide the little one back to bed.  Around the same time I will realize, with a twinge of sadness undoubtedly, that he will be praying to God instead of "dog", and no longer will he be asking to hold me.

Consistency is key.

Without it, limits are not limits set for the benefit of all, they are simply suggestions and that model inevitably leads to chaos and unruliness.  

Training without consistency is not training at all.

Without consistency, the child is given much reason to not respect your authority.  Given that God ordained that parents rule over their children, what a disservice we do our children if we do not require obedience!  If we do not require that which God requires, we lead the child to not only disobey us, but to disobey the 4th commandment!

These times, this wonderful year of two, are far more pleasant for both ourselves and our children when we train consistently - doing all things as unto the Lord - knowing that the long term benefit far outweighs the inconvenience of a few fleeting, sometimes hectic days with a two year old.

*This video of Noah, above, is of him fulfilling his duties as "Hershey Kiss Unwrapper" during Christmas baking.  He took his job quite seriously, and very much enjoyed it, and ate far fewer of them than I'd expected.  Contrary to popular belief, joyful and peaceful times like these can certainly be had and enjoyed with a toddler much more often that not.* 
*To view, kindly pause the music player in the left hand side bar.*


Lisa said...

Consistency is definitely the key, Lisa.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article Lisa. I will definately remember this while I work on toilet training a almost 3 1/2 year old stubborn boy.


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