Recommended Reads: Book Explaining the Terrible Twos

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I recently read Louise Kaplan, PhD's book Oneness and Separateness: From Infant to Individual. I highly recommend this book to any new mom or a mom of a toddler. This book is written in a way that is not stiff, boring, or a cookie cutter list of bullets so common to many nonfiction books. It it written in a way that fuses the technical psychology discussion with an easy to read, empathetic, highly engaging prose that gets you into the heart and mind of the mother and the emerging toddler through its use of imagery in describing typical exchanges between the two. The basic premise of the book is that all individuals have a "second birth" that happens when they come to terms with the fact that they are not, as perhaps they believed as a newborn, completely "one" with their mothers and instead are separate beings. This is both a liberating and frightening realization that can be at the root of many of the "terrible twos" behaviors. Essentially a child emerging from their second birth is grappling with why their mother's desires / agendas, etc. are not perfectly in tune / exactly the same as theirs.  They are also trying to figure out their sense of power and place in the world. Many behaviors, such as shadowing, "no saying", tantrums and the like are explained. The book starts with an overview and then has chapters covering the various ages and behaviors typical of those ages. An example of one of the behaviors explained is the use of the "security blanket" around eight months as a way to, in essence, bring a piece of their "oneness" with their mothers along with them for a sense of security while they explore independently. The security blanket, unlike the mother, can be completely controlled by the child and therefore provides / extends that blissful illusion that the child can have both perfect oneness with the mother (or primary caretaker) and the liberating separateness they desire as they venture out, exploring in the world. This book has been in print a long time (originally printed in 1985), but the basic premises are still applicable today. 

You will come away from this book with a greater understanding of some of the dynamics happening with your little one, and as a result feel more empathetic towards him or her.  Knowing the reasons for the behavior and knowing that it is a necessary, healthy and temporary process for your little one (and you) to go through, leaves you more confident in handling the ups and downs of this age.  
After reading this book, I feel more empowered and ready to be empathetic and understanding when my little one (now nine months) and I go through this "second birth" in the months to come.

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