When our first daughter was an infant, lots of people would say,
"She's so sweet. But just WAIT 'til she's two! They don't call them 'The Terrible Two's' for nothing!"
Sometimes I would respond by saying, "Wow. I can't imagine because I already feel like we've hit the terrible ONES!"
(Side note: I try to be very careful when it comes to labeling a child. As parents we label our children when we say things like:
- “My boy is so rambunctious.”
- “My child is not a good sleeper.”
- “My child is so energetic.”
- “My child is shy.”
- “My child can’t obey.”
- “My child must have ADHD.”
I get very sad when I hear adults labeling children with phrases like these.
As parents we need to NOT look to our children's behavior to understand ‘who they are’ or ‘what they’re like’. We need to know what their Creator says about them.
Before the foundation of the world, God knew your child. He has plans for your child. He knit together your child's physical and emotional design. He chose that your child would have particular and beautiful personality traits. However, many times, we don't even ask God things like, "What is my child like according to the design YOU'VE placed on them?" or, "Who have you made my child to be?"
Imagine if God made a young boy to be a passionate, energetic leader on a mission field in Cambodia during his adult life. How could he ever realize his potential if adults label him in the following ways:
- When the young boy is 2 years old, his energy is obnoxious to his mom. She says things like, “Can’t you just slow down. You are giving me a headache.”
- His dad doesn’t know how to bring him under the authority of his voice. He says things like, “Everyone thinks that you’re a bad kid when you act this way. Stop misbehaving!”
- The Sunday school teacher tells his parents (while he’s listening), “Your son is unruly and aggressive.”
These labels will carve out a negative path for his future. It won't be a path that is in agreement with God's plan. If a mom and dad aren't the ones in agreement with God's heart for the future of their son, who will? Parents: AVOID LABELS AT ALL COSTS. No matter how energetic or rambunctious your child is, don't say things that aren't in alignment with God's feelings for him. Don't make conclusions that lower your expectations for his behavior. Expect that he can thrive. Train your child. Show your child that it is good, best and happy to submit his energetic will to the will of the parent. Train him day in and day out. When you don't know how to lead your child through a particular behavior issue, ask for help. When a neighbor or a fellow church goer says, "Your child sure is unruly!" tell them to shut up! (Oooops. Well, it might be better to phrase your sentences differently. But the point is: let your words and actions be in agreement with the plans God has dreamed of for your son or daughter. Don't let yourselves or others mislabel the displayed behavior of your children.)
"Maybe God doesn't label the second year of your child's life the way my friends do. Maybe he doesn't call this stage ‘The Terrible Twos’. Maybe God labels this stage: “it’s the optimal time to be rescued from a broken life of self-gratification and self-centered living?” What if God’s opinion about 2-3 year olds is that they have the capacity to learn the joy of living for, and submitting to, the will of another?"