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Terrible Twos, Terrible Teensby Dr. Bill Gallagher, DC
Someone once told me that being a teenager is a second chance to learn what you missed when you were two. At first it sounded like a stretch but, after taking a closer look, it was right on target.
Growing up is a challenging process that does not end after passing those teen years. Hopefully, it will continue right on through adulthood and, for that matter, for as long as you live. For now let's take a closer look at that most difficult time of growth, both physically and emotionally.
This is a time when your body goes through a tremendous growth spurt. In a relatively short span of your life your body grows to almost twice the size of what it use to be. Arms and legs seem to have a mind of their own as you try to coordinate their movement. Muscle mass increases to help you run faster and jump higher. Everything changes so fast that when you pass a mirror you may not be sure who that is looking back at you.
It is a time of considerable learning. Information pours in at such a pace and on a daily basis that it is amazing anyone could process it all. Even so, you manage to catalog most of it somewhere in your brain for future use. Then, each time one of those stored bits of information shows up again, everyone else in the room can see your lights turning on. All that information will also be used to help you make decisions as to what is right and what is wrong. You learn more and more to avoid the things that hurt and go toward those that bring you pleasure. Hopefully, you also learn which are good choices.
It is a time when communication is probably the biggest issue. Yes, you have a vocabulary that allows you to get what you need but, in order to function, you need to learn more words and how to use them more eloquently. Not being able to do so can lead to insurmountable frustration, where you don't know whether to be upset with yourself or your parents, who simply don't understand you.
It is a time when, for some unknown reason, you have a need to test the limits. When you are trying to convince your parents that you are old enough to do what you want to do and responsible enough to make your own decisions. When you are not always understood. When the words fail and you know you are not being heard, and the frustration leads you to simply have a fit.
Such is the plight of a two-year old, or was that a teenager? The only real differences are braces and acne.
Both have to learn how to maneuver in a body that is growing faster than they are. Both have so much to learn. At two, it is counting to ten; as a teen, it is algebra and calculus. For each, it is just as much of a challenge. Both need to explore their ever expanding world. At two, that is rarely out of a parent's sight; for a teen, the limits drop as the whole world is opened up. Decisions and responsibilities expand too, from learning hot and cold, to more complex issues of life and interpersonal relationships.
Then there is communication. At two, the vocabulary may be limited but it is quite sufficient to convey one's basic needs. With practice, single word commands expand into three word sentences that make it easier to deal with parents and others. Teens are no different. They have more words, but need to develop a greater command of the language in order to get their more complex ideas across to others.
Both go through the frustration of all these issues and of not being understood and, when that boils over, there is little difference between a tantrum on the living room floor and stomping off to your bedroom and slamming the door. The lessons are basically the same, only the scale changes.
Oddly enough, the lesson here is probably best given to the parents or those teens who will be parents:
The "Terrible Twos" are not really that terrible, especially once you get past them and, for that matter, neither are those teenage years. Just remember that both are growing and need to be understood. You, no doubt, recall being a teenager yourself more than you do having been two. As a parent, you have the advantage of seeing both stages in your child.The moral of this story is they are no different than a one-year old who learned how to walk. No matter how many times they fell they got back up and tried again because you were there to support them.
Dr Bill Gallagher is the director of Run Drugs Out of Town Run, Inc.
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