It may be the title of a reality show but it has also been my reality as a parent when my children were very young. No doubt many others can relate.
For the record I want to point out that I believe the 'terrible twos' have been given a bad rap.
From my experience - with all three children - 'terrible two and half to three' is far more appropriate. But who really wants to use that descriptive mouthful that generally identifies a time in a young child's life where parental reasoning is a near impossibility.
The 'terrible twos' actually began when each of my children were close to turning three.
Here was I thinking either the much-mentioned troublesome challenges of a two-year-old were a fallacy, or at the very least I was raising perfect children.
Wrong, wrong and wrong again. For me, three became the new two.
My first child, and only son, was energetic and mischievous - and exceptionally fast - in that dreaded period. But for the most part the parenting experience wasn't terribly daunting. However, it kept me fit as I tried to keep up with one inquisitive adventure after another.
I believe it would be fair to say that he was happiest when he was heading out in a truck with his grandfather, helping his Pop feed the sheep or helping his dad to build things. I could definitely keep his inquisitive mind busy if I sat down with him to build with blocks.
However, I will admit that if we needed to go shopping he was not impressed and the fiddling with everything in sight was his preferred distraction from the boredom. This seemed to make the shopping process take longer. I would strive to get the tasks done quickly, but this was challenging with a constant watchful eye on the bored but inquisitive youngster to make sure he didn't touch or possibly break things.
At the time I thought it was challenging and opted to shop childless wherever possible, such as when my husband was home from work.
However, in retrospect it would be fair to say this inquisitive little one gave me a false sense of comfort about the 'terrible nearly threes'.
That all changed with the excessive display of attitude that would come with each of my daughters when they hit the the same age. It was at this stage that the eldest of the two girls made a connection with throwing tantrums - usually while I was shopping. Clearly it was her go-to to let me know she was not happy with how her time was being spent.
A warning of punishment for poor behaviour really didn't work at this age so I quickly learnt that ignoring the tantrums was the best option. I know this simply because they would stop soon after. However, I do apologise for anyone who had to experience the demonstrative ways of the strong-willed miss.
Fortunately, the tantrum phase for this one was short-lived. The same could not be said for the youngest of my brood of three. This little miss mastered the art of tantrums.
Again it was worse when we were in public - or maybe it just felt that way. The advancement on her tantrums was that they were also commonplace at home.
Threats of punishment offered very little impact, but once again ignoring the behaviour seemed to work. I guess it makes sense considering the tantrum was generally to get attention or to let me know that she did not like what was happening at the time. If this behaviour is being ignored then clearly it is ineffective. Even a toddler can work this out.
I will confess the tantrum phase continued for a little longer with the youngest. But the turning point came on the day I put her in her room and told he she could kick and scream all she wanted but I wasn't interested.
I then made myself a cup of coffee and went and sat on the back deck. It was the best decision I could have made. I separated myself from the tantrum-throwing child, who was in a safe environment to get it out of her system. Meanwhile, I didn't react to her in any way because I distracted myself from her behaviour.
The tantrums phase seemed to take a nose dive from that day. Maybe it would have anyway, who knows!
Interestingly enough not long after this situation, the little miss was asked to do a small dance piece in a competition routine involving her older sister. She was very excited to dance with her sister on stage, however, we were all concerned that she might get nervous when the time came to perform.
At the time she loved watching ballet dancers and was especially impressed with the tiaras they wore. Needless to say I promised her a tiara if she completed her role in the dance routine.
She did so beautifully but as she headed off stage she called out "Mummy, I can get a tiara now." We all burst into laughter, I bought her a tiara that day, and she never had another tantrum. I still joke that maybe that tiara had magic powers.
Coincidence...I have my doubts.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.