By: Judy Lyden
The third year can be terrible especially if a parent doesn't understand how important the battle is. Age two is a key year because it's the self control year. It's the year the child separates from the parent and identifies himself as an independent person. In this pernicious third year of life we generally call the terrible twos, a child will learn the first of three life sized independent achievements. He will learn to use the toilet or he should. The primary training time for most children is somewhere between 18 months and 26 months.
And he will do a lot of other important stuff as well. He will develop his first table likes and dislikes. He will accomplish speech with meaning. He might even decide that his great toilet independence means he doesn't need mommy or anyone else for much of anything. He becomes in his graduated state from diapers to flushing, for no better term, god with a small g. And in his great inflated sense of self, he will gravitate toward some bad habits
He will assume the cheeky little routine of stubborn to the point of nonsense.
He will discover the cheeky little practice of revenge; if the cat scratches, I'll hit him with a block.
He will don the cheeky little archetype of pride; I don't have to – not ever.
He will eye the cheeky little habit of avarice with gusto; I want it all every time. I don't have to share.
He will realize the cheeky little pattern of malice; I don't want my sister to have any.
He will self indulge the cheeky little prototype of greed; I want everything or I'll scream!
He will be a terrible mess maker and smile on his little cheeky model of sloth; I won't clean up or learn how – ever!
He will stuff his cheeks till gluttony knows a new term: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"
These are the vices, and a two year old will absorb each one with an alacrity not unlike a dog with a dish full of food.
When you see a poorly behaved five or six year old, you can blame it on a failed third year. When a child can't behave at nine, it's the same thing. Poor behavior really does begin at two and can be traced to a passion called anger. Anger is the only passion without an antithesis. Children who enjoy the passion of anger will also enjoy a cold shoulder towards obedience and towards justice, and that makes it especially hard for parents.