Anyone who has ever parented a toddler knows that it’s often a herculean task.
The so-called “terrible twos” are so well-known that even non-parents feel a wave of sympathy when they hear someone say they have a 2-year-old at home. Kids this age are going through a lot, and sometimes their seemingly boundless amount of energy, coupled with their seemingly extreme emotions, can be overwhelming for their caretakers.
While it’s probably tempting to get super-frustrated when your toddler is throwing another tantrum, Mary Katherine Backstrom of Mom Babble advocates for a more empathetic response to your toddler’s behavior because, while you probably can’t remember it, being 2 years old is pretty tough.
In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, Backstrom shared a diary passage written from the perspective of a 2-year-old, by an unknown author, that aims to explain why they act the way they do. The post suggests that a lot of struggles with kids this age come from the fact that they are trying to establish and assert their independence, as well as learn to manage their emotions for the first time.
“I am 2. I am not terrible … I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug,” the passage begins and ends. “Today I woke up and wanted to get dressed by myself but was told ‘No, we don’t have time, let me do it.’ This made me sad. I wanted to feed myself for breakfast but was told, ‘No, you’re too messy, let me do it for you.’ This made me feel frustrated.”
The passage went on for 631 words that attempt to show the reader the perspective of a 2-year-old child in a normal day. It touched on the idea that kids this age don’t understand what’s being asked of them, like when they are told to pick up their toys, for example: “I’m not sure what to do. Is someone supposed to show me how to do this? Where do I start? Where do these things go? I am hearing a lot of words but I do not understand what is being asked of me. I am scared and do not move.”
The post clearly resounded with a lot of people, as it’s been liked by more than 90,000 people and shared more than 170,000 times since March 4. Facebook users sounded off in the comments about how relatable they found the sentiments.
“LOVE! Little doesn’t mean lesser! Little guys and gals need big love and someone ready to stop talking and listen, even when no words are said. Respect your babies,” one person wrote.
“This about made me cry,” another person wrote. “I wish this would come with each newborn. I’m a grandma and a great grandma. I had my son at a very early age and wish someone had told me these things or shown me this.”
It’s a great reminder that we should all have a little more empathy toward each other. And if you’re feeling like your toddler is driving you crazy, there could be a very good reason they are acting the way they are.
As Backstrom herself noted in the comments, there is no perfect way to parent. “Hey, sometimes kids are kids. Y’all are doing a great job!”