We are going through a tough phase in our house at the moment- the terrible twos.
I’m not talking about the fact that our youngest son is two; but, that our two boys are pushing me to my limits of sanity. Lately, it seems like they just can’t get along! There has been so much bickering over toys and whining about not getting their way, it is causing a lot of stress in our family. Who knew having two kids could be so difficult at times?
I always had my heart set on having two kids.
My fixation on the idea of my children having a companion and friend in a sibling probably stems from me growing up with two sisters and a brother. As a child, I relied a lot on my older sisters, especially for moral support. We passed the time by dressing up dolls (or younger brother) and playing in our wooded backyard. I’m sure we fought at times, but I can’t remember ever fighting with my siblings the way that my two boys are currently disputing. Their quarrels have become constant and relentless.
Part of me attributes this terrible twos phase to the difference in age between them. E is 6 years old and O is 2.5. E is able to do things that O isn’t quite ready for, and O still requires more of mom’s attention. This seems to bring up feelings of jealousy in each boy for different, yet understandable, reasons. Also, E is able to focus more on projects, such as building a Lego castle, while O just wants to bulldoze through every structure in true 2.5 yo fashion. These frequent interactions have lead to plenty of tears in our home.
My husband and I speculate that the difference in E and O’s personalities could also be fueling the feuds. E likes things to be in order and can become anxious if they are not so; while O spreads out his toys and doesn’t pay much attention to the arrangement. O also seems to get a kick out of antagonizing his older brother. If he sees that E has lined up cars, he may knock a car out of that lineup and watch his brother have a fit with a half-smile on his little face. As I mentioned in a previous post, E can be somewhat emotional and fly off the handle the second his toys are moved in a way he doesn’t approve of. These outbursts are stressful for me to hear, and I’m sure for E to experience. Overall, this level of arguing is wearing me down.
I am working on ways to get out of this terrible twos phase so that the boys can get along for longer than 5 minutes. So far these are the things that seem to work:
- Get Outside– it may be the fresh air or the room to roam, but when we are outside there is less fighting.
- Encourage– I like to encourage our 6 year old to find ways to include his 2.5 year old brother. Whether it is building a tower especially for him to push over, or giving him a special car; there are ways to play together.
- Demonstrate– I’ve been having to mediate too many arguments lately; but, it gives me a chance to demonstrate better ways to ask for toys, rather than snatching them from someone’s hand, and how to take turns.
- Removing Objects– If the boys are bickering over something, perhaps a toy, and it is escalating to the point that they can’t work it out, I will say to them “If you can’t play nicely with that toy, I am going to take it away.”
- Manage my Own Reactions– I’ve noticed that when I am less reactive in my responses, so are the boys. If I take the time to explain to E why I can’t read a book to him at that exact minute, as he requested, he is more likely to be thoughtful in his responses to his little brother.
I am obviously no expert. There are some days I can reason with my boys and move past the disputes, and there are other days when I’m ready to lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle of wine because all hell has broken lose. I’m crossing my fingers that this really is a terrible twos phase that we will get past in the next year or two. For those of you with 3 plus kids that are laughing at me- you are right, I have no idea how you do it, but I can send wine!