Thursday, March 15, 2007

Okay, so my kid is normal after all

Here is a reprint of an article I just found. Considering my two year old does each of these (sometimes all in the same day!), I found a little comfort...

Problem Child? Probably not.

Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D.Child Psychologist
I frequently run into new parents who are so distressed about something their toddler or preschooler has done that they become convinced that it’s the first sign of a serious problem. Again and again I find myself reassuring these fretful parents that their little one is normal. They sigh with relief, but they still seem puzzled about how such “odd” behavior can be par for the course.The fact of the matter is that perfectly normal 2- and 3-year-olds display a lot of seemingly strange behavior. To an inexperienced parent, this behavior often becomes cause for concern. “Do you think she’s becoming a brat?” I’m often asked. “Maybe my son is developing an obsessive-compulsive disorder,” another parent wonders. If a child has temper tantrums, her parents worry that he’ll become violent down the road. Parents of a bossy little girl may fear that she’s getting out of control.To help ease new parents’ concerns, I have compiled a list of typical behavior for 2- and 3-year-olds. As you read this I hope it reassures you that you’re not lacking as a parent—and that you’re not raising a future delinquent!Children this age throw their parents for a loop when they:

(1) Melt down when you deny an unreasonable request, like eating ice cream before dinner, taking home a puppy from the pet store or putting spaghetti in their milk.

(2) Suddenly disappear in a store for an impromptu game of hide-and-seek, sending you on a frantic search.

(3) Insist on wearing a particular outfit that’s not appropriate for the weather or so mismatched that it looks ridiculous.

(4) Have to have everything just so. This child repeatedly and meticulously lines up toys, making parents concerned that he or she has an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

(5) Experience unpredictable mood swings. One minute he’s happy and cooperative; the next he’s belligerent and uncooperative.

(6) Start using bad words despite the fact that neither parent swears.

(7) Break rules they followed the day before.

(8) Start defying you with a smile. For example, you ask your child to stay close at the mall and she runs away while you frantically chase her.

(9) Don’t anticipate the danger of walking into the street, climbing up on the cupboard or leaning back on a chair.

(10) Hit a playmate for no apparent reason.

(11) Become fearful and hysterical at the sight of a tiny bug, for example, or the prospect of getting in the bathtub.

(12) Ignore you and seem to go deaf when you give an order.

(13) Start crying hysterically over nothing and can’t be consoled—even after having a very pleasant, uneventful day.

(14) Become a very finicky eater, rejecting all but a select few foods at mealtime.

Does anything sound familiar on this list? It probably does, as many young children behave like this. Of course, when it’s your child, you tend to feel like a failure, as if you’ve done something wrong as a parent. Or, you worry that something’s wrong with your child.In all likelihood, neither scenario is true. At this age children exhibit a lot of unreasonable behavior, and it’s almost never a reflection on their parents’ parenting skills or some aberration in the child. If you’re a new parent, remember that your child is going through a phase that will soon pass. In the meantime, try not to become frustrated—and keep a cool head!

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