When US mum-of-four Dejah Roman shared an update about toddlers on Facebook a couple of years ago, she couldn’t have known that it was on a slow burn to go viral, and that’s what has happened two years after the fact.
“I am 2. I am not terrible.”
Mary Katherine Backstrom, another mum in the trenches, re-shared Dejah’s compassionate post about stereotyped “terrible” two-year-olds and it’s caught the eye of tens of thousands of other parents.
Dejah’s post was written from the point of view of a misunderstood toddler, and reminds us of how powerless small children can feel.
“I wanted it to sound as if a 2-year-old could say this, this is what they would say,” she told Good Morning America.
“Our toddlers have no choice and no voice. We just shift them around. If there was an adult [who] touched me without asking, talking while I was crying … I would get upset too.”
“They’re much more capable than we think and we are actually pretty disrespectful to them. We do things to keep them safe, but a lot of it isn’t necessary.”
No, no, NO!
“Today I woke up and wanted to get dressed by myself but was told ‘No, we don’t have time, let me do it.’ This made me sad,” Dejah’s piece reads.
MORE Behaviour and Discipline
“I wanted to feed myself for breakfast but was told, ‘No, you’re too messy, let me do it for you.’ This made me feel frustrated”
It continues on in this vein, detailing what might just be the innermost thoughts of a two-year-old. It’s really helpful to consider their experience.
Children are still working hard at mastering emotional self-regulation at this age and things that seem inconsequential to us are often the big things for toddlers.
Being more aware of their feelings and ’emotion coaching’ them through challenging situations can help defuse tantrums and give them the tools to cope better, down the track. Dejah’s writing is reminding thousands of parents to do just that.
Reframing toddler behaviour
Mary Katherine Backstrom – the mum who resurfaced this now viral Facebook post a couple of weeks ago – says Dejah’s words were a turning point for her.
“It changed my perspective,” she told Good Morning America. “I was able to look at the developmental milestones that a toddler has and take away that their negative behaviours are not personal.”
“Kids are not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time. Once I got that concept, it really helped me with my kids,” Mary Katherine said.
Here’s the post that’s striking a chord with so many, with thanks to Dejah.
“I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.”
From the diary of a 2-year-old:
Today I woke up and wanted to get dressed by myself but was told “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.”
This made me sad.
I wanted to feed myself for breakfast but was told,
“No, you’re too messy, let me do it for you.”
This made me feel frustrated.
I wanted to walk to the car and get in on my own but was told, “No, we need to get going, we don’t have time. Let me do it.”
This made me cry.
I wanted to get out of the car on my own but was told “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.”
This made me want to run away.
Later I wanted to play with blocks but was told “no, not like that, like this…”
I decided I didn’t want to play with blocks anymore. I wanted to play with a doll that someone else had, so I took it. I was told “No, don’t do that! You have to share.”
I’m not sure what I did, but it made me sad. So I cried. I wanted a hug but was told “No, you’re fine, go play”.
I’m being told it’s time to pick up. I know this because someone keeps saying, “Go pick up your toys.”
I am not sure what to do, I am waiting for someone to show me.
“What are you doing? Why are you just standing there? Pick up your toys, now!”
I was not allowed to dress myself or move my own body to get to where I needed to go, but now I am being asked to pick things up.
I’m not sure what to do. Is someone supposed to show me how to do this? Where do I start? Where do these things go? I am hearing a lot of words but I do not understand what is being asked of me. I am scared and do not move.
I lay down on the floor and cry.
When it was time to eat I wanted to get my own food but was told “no, you’re too little. Let me do it.”
This made me feel small. I tried to eat the food in front of me but I did not put it there and someone keeps saying “Here, try this, eat this…” and putting things in my face.
I didn’t want to eat anymore. This made me want to throw things and cry.
I can’t get down from the table because no one will let me…because I’m too small and I can’t. They keep saying I have to take a bite. This makes me cry more. I’m hungry and frustrated and sad. I’m tired and I need someone to hold me. I do not feel safe or in control. This makes me scared. I cry even more.
I am 2. No one will let me dress myself, no one will let me move my own body where it needs to go, no one will let me attend to my own needs.
However, I am expected to know how to share, “listen”, or “wait a minute”. I am expected to know what to say and how to act or handle my emotions. I am expected to sit still or know that if I throw something it might break….But, I do NOT know these things.
I am not allowed to practice my skills of walking, pushing, pulling, zipping, buttoning, pouring, serving, climbing, running, throwing or doing things that I know I can do. Things that interest me and make me curious, these are the things I am NOT allowed to do.
I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.