Aiden is 2 1/2 years old, 32 months to be exact. That means he is well into his "terrible twos." And boy, has it been a crazy roller-coaster ride so far! We've had good days, and not-so-good days, and I've learned a bit along the way. Here are some things I wish I learned before he turned two:
1. Long gone are the days of doing things "because I said so." I've learned that Aiden needs an explanation as to why I expect him to do certain things. This works especially if I want him to internalize it and just do it... without to much prompting (or nagging) from mommy.
2. Forget the "what I say goes" attitude. This goes hand-in-hand with #1. Sometimes it's totally okay to negotiate with a kid. Case in point: We usually read one book before going to bed, but sometimes Aiden asks to read two books, and that's totally cool.
3. Positive reinforcement works WAY better than punishment. The thing about punishment (as in, when I take something away from Aiden as a result of him doing something I don't like) is that it is a way for me to gain control over a situation that I've lost control over. It helps me feel better and Aiden feel worse. Plus (and this is a big one!) it shows him what not to do, but it does not show him what I'd like him to do instead. I've learned that if I model for him what I'd like him to do, and praise him every time he does it, it works wonders. Really.
4. Turn the "nay" into a "yay." Let me explain. It's totally developmentally appropriate for Aiden to respond with the word "no" for just about everything. And it's totally frustrating for me to hear it. But me saying "no" to him all the time does not help the situation either. I've learned that saying "yes" to him almost always works better. It goes a little something like this -- Aiden: mommy, I want to watch Barney; Me: yes, as soon as you eat your snack. This has worked better than me saying, "no, eat your snack first." And, apparently, it works both ways. The other night I said, "Aiden, let's go take a bath" and he responded, "okay, when Barney is over."
5. Tailor some of my expectations. It was about a month after his 2nd birthday party when I realized that I was expecting way too much from Aiden. It was totally unreasonable to expect so much from someone who has only been on this earth for 25 months! No, he won't sit still for 45 minutes while we're on the city bus. No, he won't stop whining when he really wants something. No, he won't share his things. Not without me teaching him anyway.
6. Put my big-girl pants on and be more thick-skinned. Kids throw tantrums. In public. A lot. And if I were more thick-skinned and less concerned with what others had to say, it would have been less embarrassing the first time Aiden threw a tantrum in public. And 2nd, and 3rd, and 5th... you get the point. Once I put my big-girl pants on and dealt with it, it became much easier to focus on Aiden and less on his audience.
Knowing these things before Aiden hit two would have made the "terrible twos" more manageable. But hey, experience is your best teacher, right?