Many people call them the "terrible twos" or "threenagers," but kids of this age are just trying to be like mom and dad. The "terrible twos" expression has been around since generations, while the "threenager" one was introduced in 2015, as an acknowledgment that the toddlerhood status doesn't always end on a child's third birthday.
At first glance, such metaphors may seem rather funny and harmless. However, language influences the understanding of our experiences, so using negative words about toddlers can have bad consequences for their parents and for the kids themselves during this pivotal stage of their growth.
Child development psychologist and author Tovah Klein, who directs the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, thinks that “This particular stage makes parents feel incompetent; nothing is more embarrassing than a public tantrum... We feel out of control... You wouldn’t want that kind of behavior long term, but you have to understand it for right now.”
In fact, toddlers are just in the midst of their path of becoming fully realized persons. “These early years are a time of tremendous brain development. What’s happening in this period is that there’s a burst of emotion - anger, frustration - but also positive things like pride come into play, and so does shame," says Klein.
When toddlers suddenly start to express more opinions and personality traits, some parents tend to consider them as mini-adults and treat them accordingly. "But they really, really are not like us," according to Klein.
Picture: Chid with Headache (Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects)