Yesterday I went to one of my toddler group's coffee sessions in a house that I've not been to before. The host mum just so happens to have been in the same secondary school as me, but a few years below, and it's been strange meeting up with her again. She has four fabulous children and is a marvellous mum, I've asked her advice many a time since the beginning of the summer holidays.

Chatting to her, we discussed The Boy's growing need to assert his authority and display of emotions (terrible twos? My child? Never! Ha!) and she was explaining that around this age, or just before they hit the age of three, they have their first surge of testosterone. Apparently, it's recommended that they spent as much time as possible with their father to a) have the male influence rubbed off on them, and b) be put back into their place like pack animals trying to assert themselves as the alpha-male.

I found this really interesting and thought about it all day. He has become more 'trying' lately, and I know that it's the stage of development. I know he's finding growing independence and confidence, this is apparent as he will now talk to anyone telling them "I'm (his name) and this is mummy!" or "Hello lady, what's your name?". I also know that he's becoming overwhelmed with a rush of hormones and emotions, so that when he's told 'no' it becomes the most traumatic event in the world and he will often have a mini-paddy resulting in tears. He becomes confused by this, if I ask him why he's crying he will tell me through the tears "I don't know" and try valiantly to stop it. I hold him close, wipe his face and kiss his tears away. With the odd occasional paddy, I've sat him on the sofa as a 'time-out' spot and had to walk away to breathe and remember that he is only a child, and I'm the adult.

Rewinding to the coffee session, The Boy picked up a toy rifle and brought it over to me on the sofa. He asked me what it was and I told him that it was a not-nice toy and he wouldn't be playing with it. Luckily the host wasn't around to be offended, but am I alone in thinking 'I don't want my two year old playing with guns'? I don't want him ever to think that guns are ok, I will never buy or allow a toy-weapon into the house. One of the other mums was sat next to me on the sofa and affirmed my actions by saying she didn't allow them in her house either (and she's a childminder too). It was at this point that The Boy brought over the toy highchair in the room, placed the baby lying on the floor in it and preceeded to feed it a biscuit.

(This is a post in two halves, the above was written last night, below relates to today's antics)

Today, has been a bad day with the hormones. It's not helped by the fact that he's poorly and knackered. If he will wake up at four o'clock and demand to play with the iPod what does he expect? (No, I didn't let him!)

We're both shattered as a result, but it's not helped by these tantrums when he can't get his own way. A friend came over for lunch and took too long leaving. It meant that he was late going to bed and as a result neither of us had any patience. I asked him six times to take his trousers and pants off and sit on the potty. He ignored me so in the end I did it. Which is when it all went pear-shaped. He kicked, screamed, shouted, hit, lashed out and sobbed hysterically. I remained calm telling myself that I am the adult and he is the child. But it's hard when you're little precious bundle is kicking you in the chest as you struggle to get his pull-ups on his moving feet. In the end, I put him in his cot sans clothes and excited the room to sit on the toilet and cry. I didn't, because that would have frightened him even more. When I went back in a minute later, he was astonished and apologetic.

I looked at him and I saw so much: my innocent and placid baby, my clever and inquisitive toddler, and me. I saw me with the teenage rage as I struggled with hormones. Not knowing why I was screaming into my pillow, just knowing that I had to. Only he's two and I don't want that for him. We hugged each other and his sobs subsided.

People talk about girls being hard-work, but no-one warned me about the testosterone! Anything else I need to know?

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  1. Circus Mum says

    My little girl is three and is also proving a hormonal handful, constantly fighting to be 'alpha dog' and testing my patience.
    Your post is really interesting as I never knew there was a testosterone issue with little boys – I am one of those mums who always say " It would be nice for the next one to be a boy as they're so much calmer" – how wrong was I!
    I'm glad you get to cuddle at the end of these paddys. That's the bit I look forwards to when I'm ready to burst into tears and run for the loos – the fact that having the hug or hearing them say "sorry mummy I love you" makes everything ok again!
    (sorry for the essay comment!)

  2. says

    Wow, that's really interesting (not the kicking you in the chest bit), I never thought it could be a hormone related thing. Makes a lot of sense though and as I was reading I was thinking of my niece. She is going through a phase of wanting to be in charge and in control of everything and a simple "no" can send her into a hysterical frenzy. Then just as easily, she is ok again and sweetness and light. Sounds really exhausting, hope it passes quickly!

  3. says

    OMG! Mine is only 14 months and now I have all that to look forward! She is a girl so I am not sure about hormones – it might be different ones – but I am not patient by nature so I will be probably losing it on a daily basis…Little G, please don't grow up until I am prepared to deal with you…

    Hugs to you and I hope the boy gets calmer.

    BTW, Toy guns are a big NO NO for me too, what exactly is the point of them?

  4. Susaneardley says

    So know what you're going through. We had exactly the same with my little man at around 2 & a half, but I think we got off lightly. He's 3 & a half nearly 4 now and I hate to say it but we're having it worse than ever now, as are most of the boys his age too. Lots of cheekiness, pushing the boundaries, purposefully ignoring what he's asked to do. Basically seeing what he can & can't get away with! Time out & reward charts are making a good dent in in, but I think it's just a growing up thing. Good luck! (sorry for such a doom and gloom response)

  5. Lexie Bleasdale says

    I have two very boisterous boys, aged 2 and 4. When the 4 year old comes out of school all the little boys run onto the field and playfight, including using their fingers as guns. The two year old joins in. I was exasperated but having spoken to the teacher she made me relax, she said there's an inevitability of violent play but better that it's done under school/parent supervision so that they can explore acceptable boundaries.

  6. says

    Wow, this is really great food for thought. Hormones are a funny little thing that hit us at ages we'd never thought about don't they? I had no idea it wasn't going to wait until they were teenagers though! Thanks for the warning. 😉 I'm with you on the no toy guns thing by the way. I played "cops and robbers" and the like as a kid but I am scared to death of them.

  7. says

    DD (3 on Sunday) seems to have started her own fanatical religion of which I know none of the rules but have to adhere to them anyway or all hell breaks loose. However I too love the "I'm sorry Mummy, I love you too" moments. They say it gets better.

  8. Him Up North says

    The change in behaviour we saw in your youngest at 2 years old is pretty much still going on. While I don't dispute the hormone theory, there's a lot to consider including the dynamic of the family, siblings etc.

    As for toy guns, I'm going to act up to stereotype now. We said no toy guns when our two were very small and yet, by some evolution or possibly osmosis, they began simply wanting them. And do you know what? It was no biggie in the end. I'm sure there's tons of research on toy firearms and aggression or psychosis but I think we are too averse. We avoid behaviours we find disagreeable instead of letting our children learn from them.

  9. says

    As Bud is a few months behind The Boy I found this post really interesting. We do get flashes of temper now because, I think, Bud has a very strong personality (I wonder where he gets that from?) I hadn't heard about the hormones surge either, I'm going to do a bit of reading on this I think.

  10. Jenny paulin says

    Didnt know about the testosterone part but i know well of the other things you describe 🙁 we have been having days like this with Burton since before Jenson was born and i hate them and sometimes i hate myself. Sometimes i have forgotten who was the child and shouted back at him or almost cried myself. Its even harder on days when i am very tired as my patience is already waining!!
    Our consolation? I guess this is nothing compared to the teenage years xx
    Ps no i wouldnt allow a weapon as a toy either x

  11. says

    Like I said yesterday, my husband works with a child behaviour expert and so we knew about the age 2 testosterone surge! It explains why some boys are physically unable to sit still on the carpet at school or in assembly etc. As teachers we expect so much of such young children!

    ps hope it gets a little easier to deal with. Luka is exactly the same!


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