Between child one and two years
The way a child is handled, directed and allowed to interact with people and her environment during this period is of great significance to her future development.
Yet it is often a testing time for parents who are faced with the challenge of relating to a little human being who is trying to make sense of the world around her and find her place in it. Because of the inevitable conflicts that result, this period has become known as the terrible twos. Yet there are ways of keeping clashes to a minimum. As always in interpersonal relationships, empathy is the key. Put yourself in the place of the child who is driven to explore … to discover. For her, nothing is a known fact, everything is possible, and her desire to experience and learn is greater now than it might ever be later. She can see no reason for restraint in her headlong thrust into the wonderful world of discovery. Yet she knows she is vulnerable; that she needs adults to protect and nurture her, even though her drive for independence makes her resent it: so that in many ways she behaves like a typical teenager.
The child who has not had her needs met consistently, who does not associate her mother or primary caretaker with the relief of distress, or sees her as someone who does not generally respond to her problems positively, will not be able to cope effectively with the challenges and conflicts of the second year.
Because this is the time she should be using adults as a resource, actively enlisting their help – whether it involves her need for food or comfort or as interpreters of the world around her and guides to her place in it.
How the adults, particularly the primary caretaker in her life, meet these needs will colour her nature indelibly. If she has learnt through past experience that help is not forthcoming within a reasonable time of sending out a distress signal, she will have a distorted idea of how to gain the necessary attention. The baby who has been left to cry unheeded until she finally falls asleep from exhaustion, the infant who was made to wait when hunger signalled, will not see her caretaker as a sympathetic, powerful force.
Supposing you have come through the first year and satisfied your babys needs to the best of your ability, but now she is showing signs of having a will of her own you are unsure of what line to take. Uncertainty is understandable when you consider that caring for a child between the ages of one and two is a challenge that would test the mettle of the most competent executive, because it requires emotional maturity, insight, foresight, stamina and managerial skills of the highest order.
To form a basis for your strategy you need to know something about the characteristics of children at this age.
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