Before I dig into this week’s material, I wanted to apologise because last week I shared my Google Doc without the right settings. If you feel like adding your thoughts to my investigation about early education, as I explained last week, please check out the document here.
A couple of months ago I wrote a newsletter questioning the idea of the terrible twos. We know that by the age of two children become more independent but they are still not entirely verbal, and there is a lot of potential for meltdowns. But I asked myself: is it useful to call this phase “the terrible twos” and justify every crisis just like that, or does the expression limit our understanding of what may be bothering them? I argued that parents’ flexibility plays a role in children’s emotional reactions and that we may be able to avoid meltdowns if we don’t expect them to be a regular feature of our children once they turn two.
Several people responded to my story, but one email caught my attention. Michael, a reader, sent me a message from north Idaho, where he is based.
“Along with not calling them terrible, how about not calling them ‘tantrums’”, he wrote. “How about describing them instead of using words that have negative meanings.”
His email caught me off guard. I am not a native speaker of English, and I thought I used tantrum as a descriptive word. But when I started exploring my use of the word tantrum, I realised that Michael had a point.
I looked back at previous newsletters – before the one that Michael caught – and I saw that I had used the word tantrum twice already. First in this sentence here: “I won’t lie to you: sometimes I wish Lorenzo was already 18 years old and away at university and that I could avoid his bedtime routine (as well as his tantrums).“ And then I used it again in a piece about Donald J Trump’s childhood, here: “Every time I see Trump in difficulty, he seems to revert to the p…