Many parents tremble at the sight of their rather small but often intimidating almost two year old. This age, above all others, seems to be the one that fills most parents with dread.
Why are so many adults afraid of a child who is less than half their height and a small fraction of their weight and can still do very little in life without their assistance?
If you don’t know the answer to that you have never seen a raging two year old tearing down the aisles of the supermarket like a screaming whirling dervish.
While the ‘terrible twos’ can be a difficult and explosive time for a household, by understanding the underlying reason, it is possible for the adult to take control in a way that is beneficial to all parties.
There have been many books written that look at the development of the child. Most of them discuss the terrible twos as a ‘stage’ your child goes through but will grow out of. The truth is the opposite. We grow into stages not out of them. This is why it is so important to understand this stage of the child’s development from your toddler’s perspective.
If we look at it from a cosmic view, we gain a clearer picture of what is going on, why, and how best to react. Each of the planets in our solar system represents a different facet of our personality. The earliest cycles point to the development of that part in the individual child.
At around the age of two, the planet that becomes prominent is Mars. This is one of the first of the major stages that mark the ‘ages of childhood’, and is often referred to as the terrible twos. For most children, this time coincides with the return of Mars to the exact position in the heavens as it was at the time of birth. This is why it’s called the ‘Mars return’.
Although Mars returns to the same point approximately every 22 months, the first cycle is the most significant. Mars is the planet of self-determination, assertion and anger. It gives us drive and the desire to move forward. When Mars returns to its birth position for the first time, it is a cosmic signal that your child will now be developing these traits and beginning to integrate them into their personality.
This time can trigger ‘Martian’ behaviour in your child and it is important, as parents, to understand why these changes are taking place. This is the first step, of many, your child will take in their quest for ultimate independence. How you handle your child’s first attempts to be their own person will greatly influence how they will handle independence in the future. Mars represents our ability to assert ourselves. It is our drive and momentum and allows us to take action. It is the planet most responsible for getting what we need in life, and creating our reality. How a child is managed at this time will determine how they are able to manage these important life skills.
Fostering a child’s Mars begins at birth. A baby’s actions initially operate on a purely impulsive basis as they react to the external stimulus and internal emotions they are experiencing. There is no processing on a mental level at this point. Life is all a new experience and the baby responds from a basic instinctual and survival level. In the first few months of life, the baby’s demands are usually meet with fairly instantaneous gratification. Baby is fed when hungry, picked up when lonely, or tired, and usually has no trouble in attracting a parent’s attention. Eventually a baby begins to connect their actions with the reactions of their carers. If they cry someone comes to their aid. This is the initial expression of Mars.
As Mars travels on its first circuit of your child’s chart, you will see a connection to their development towards independence and movement. These stages occur at different ages due to the natural cycle of Mars. This is why some children sit, crawl and walk early and others do so later. They each receive the energising force at different times.
Once Mars has completed one full circle of your child’s horoscope they begin to integrate all of their experiences into their personality. They now become more demanding as they look for the freedom to discover who they are and what they are capable of doing. Boundaries become very important, along with consistent rules.
The first Mars return signals the beginning of your child’s social awareness and learning to fit in with the needs of others, as well as having our own met.
During the first years of life, your child operates from a clean slate, mentally and emotionally; so there’s a lot to learn. There are no points of reference and everything that is a ‘first’ becomes the point of reference for later. These first cycles of the planets through your child’s horoscope become the reference points for later behaviour. When Mars completes that first round trip, there is now a point of reference and experience. This is why your child begins to feel more confident in making demands and can become more assertive.
Mars also represents our competitive spirit and is an important factor in our physical and sporting ability – so children generally become more co-ordinated and better at gross motor activities during this time. It also provides the answer for toddlers who can become particularly active and difficult during this stage. These children need some form of organised physical activity, as this is a good way to burn off the excess energy and encourage them to use the more assertive/aggressive behaviour in a positive way. Activities such as kindy gym, swimming lessons and dance could be positive outlets.
Your child needs to feel comfortable expressing their needs and desires – so it is important your child knows their needs are being heard and acknowledged. It is also essential your child learn to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate ways to speak and behave. Children who are handled well at this stage of development are more likely to become better at expressing themselves, and more self-reliant. Those who feel ignored, or think aggression is the best way to get attention, will continue with this behaviour as they grow. This is the age where bullies and wimps are created.
This stage can be confronting for a parent as it can raise your own issues of self-assertion. How do you react to your small child’s tantrums and demands? Do you feel threatened, angry or throw your hands up and give in? None of these is a good response. Now may be a good time for you to address your own childhood issues regarding assertiveness. How do you handle stressful situations yourself? Are you able to maintain your perspective and work through the situation calmly and rationally, or do you become the aggressor or the wimp? Your own response can indicate how you were treated at the age of two, and give you a clearer understanding of how to best respond to your own child’s needs.
Even though your child’s first Mars return may be challenging, it offers the opportunity to develop a belief in themselves, the ability to become independent and self-determining, to make their dreams come true, and it all starts with you and a screaming two year old.
Sherrynne Dalby is the author of Star Parenting (Allen & Unwin). She is a busy mother of seven, grandmother of eight and a qualified practising astrologer. She has held numerous executive positions at both state and national level of the Federation of Australian Astrologers, is an Accredited Astrology Teacher (AAT) and former member of the Examination Board. She combines her experience as a parent with her astrological expertise to assist making parenting a more pleasurable time for all parents. Sherrynne also has a strong community conscience and has twice been named ‘Mother of the Year’ in recognition for her efforts on behalf of Special Needs Children.
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