Have you ever seen a frustrated parent at the store with their children? The children look so tired and stressed out, as does mom or dad. What makes some parents suffer through the "terrible twos" while others are enjoying the "terrific twos?" These three simple strategies may be the key you are looking for to shift your child from terrible to terrific.
Key # 1 - Savor in Each Moment
We adults are always busy. Rushing off to conquer the next task, thinking of tomorrow's meetings and deadlines, stressing about how much we have to do and how little time there is. Most parents are elsewhere, much of the time, rather than in the here and now. Children do not do this. They live in the "now" and savor and delight in whatever the moment brings them.
When you watch a child at play, they are completely absorbed in the activity at hand. It is as though they ARE the activity. They are at one with the process of it, the flow. They are in BEing and mindfulness. Complete focus and attention is given to whatever they are doing at the moment. They concentrate on what is happening right now, at this moment.
Key # 2 - Align with Your Child's Sense of Rhythm
Children live in a world of rhythm, what we adults can call "flow." Flow is basically losing yourself in whatever it is that you are doing at the moment. In children, I call this rhythm. They breathe in and out the moment. They forget about the outside world and are completely engrossed in doing what they are doing, whether it is playing, washing, jumping, drawing, coloring, etc.
Adults recognize that this is a wonderfully productive zone to be in. In the workplace, much more gets accomplished and we feel more fulfilled and happier at the same time. So try to connect to the rhythm of your child's activity. If they move from one activity to another, do not stress that activity A did not get completed, just allow yourself to move on to activity B and enjoy the process.
Key # 3 - Practice Gratitude
When with your child, mentally note at least five things you are grateful for right now. Is it that they are joyous while they do what they do? Are you grateful that you have a child? Grateful that you have the time to spend in this activity? Remember for a very brief moment the news you may have heard (right now Japan's tsunami comes to mind) and give thanks for the blessings in your life you have been given. Your child is a very unique extension of you.
As you develop this practice, look at the areas you have labeled as "problems" in your child and turn the problem into a strength. An example of this would be "my child has tantrums when s/he does not get what is wanted." Turning that around would be, "I am grateful that we have choices and my child is aware of the abundance of choices. I am grateful that my child is independent enough to know what s/he wants. I am grateful to be in a place where these choices can be presented."
When we live in the present moment, we allow ourselves to flow with the rhythms of being a child and we are thankful, then almost magically - the being we may have perceived as a "terrible two" year old suddenly becomes pretty "terrific."