The Terrible Twos – should anyone label a child?

So today I was thinking on that phrase; “The Terrible Twos”.

Old people say it a lot. Parents say it a lot. I hope I don’t become a person who says it a lot.

“Oh, how old is he?” says the little old lady at the supermarket checkout.
“Two,” I say, trying to hold on to a rolling pushchair and said escapee two year old.
“Ah,” she chuckles, following it up with a knowing smile, “the ‘Terrible Twos'” she says with an ethereal tone that then envelops the whole conversation.
“Mmm,” I groan. Branded a ‘Terrible Two’ again.

It’s such a horrible saying.

The alliteration somehow makes it worse, like it’s masquerading as something nice, appealing and fun, when we all know that’s not the case. It’s so wrong.

Since when did it become OK to label our children something other than something positive?

We live in a society where children are labelled something because of the way they dress, speak, or where they come from. My child is two, nearly three, and already, before he’s even able to articulate and form his own opinions succinctly, before he’s capable of defending himself, before he has a full understanding of who he’s going to be and what he wants to do with his life, he’s already been labelled. A ‘Terrible Two’.

What’s so terrible about being two anyway? So what if my boy has a tantrum because he wants to watch Curious George but the Disney Junior Channel isn ‘t playing it just yet. So what if he gets to ask for sweets, unselfconsciously, with passion and intensity. So what if he pee’s on my living room floor and screams and cries as though it’s him who’s been done a great disservice.

He’s learning how to express himself, exploring the depths and lengths to his character. He’s showing his strengths and his weaknesses – as a parent, it’s my job to help him express them in the right way.

Noah is at an age where his body is trying to cope with a huge surge of testosterone. He’s two, and his little body’s having to cope with something a teenager deals with by sleeping all day and shouting at their parents (See; teenagers are labelled too.)

As you can probably tell, it’s a thing that really irritates me.

“Look at that little boy on the fresh produce aisle screaming at his mum – what a brat.”

Brat, naughty, stupid, terrible – it’s all the same.

And that’s another thing; why do boys seem to be judged more? Maybe it’s because I’m a mum of two boys, but I haven’t really witnessed a lot of labelling when it comes to girls – ‘spoiled’ perhaps? It could be a gross generalisation, but  it seems as though boys have this worse (I’m speaking of younger children now.) And I’m not just talking about people targeting my boys. I’ve done it. I’ve looked at a tantruming kid and thought ‘little brat.’ I have. I think if we’re all completely honest, everyone has.

But does that make it OK?

My goal? Not to label my children negatively. Ever.


3 responses

  1. Excellent post. And that’s not to say that they don’t have their moments, every one of them, but you’re absolutely right not to label a moment as the true soul of the person! A good reminder/insight for all!

    • Exactly – it’s unfair to label a child as anything, no matter how “naughty” they may appear to be in any one moment. We’ve all had our moments, both adult & child, but we grow & we change & we learn. Children are still trying to negotiate their emotions & actions & control all of the uncomfortable & unfamiliar feeling bubbling up inside of them x

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