Definition according to some random online dictionary:
Post – prefix meaning formerly
institutionalize – to place or confine in an institution, esp. one for the care of mental illness, alcoholism, etc.
Two Years Old (2)
Definition according to many mothers worldwide:
a debilitating illness causing symptoms such as mine, gimme, and no. Symptoms may also include lack of communication skills, public temper tantrums, over active reflexes resulting in limbs randomly flinging objects, an unearthy sense of aim, inability to listen, and fascination with bizarre objects.
I have notices quite a bit of talk around the internets from mothers wondering if the behaviors their child exhibits are as a result of post-institutionalization. While it is a distinct possibility that this may be true, I find it interesting that many of the mothers asking are mothers to two year olds. As parents to PI kids we become hypersensitive to behaviors that could be signs of greater challenges to come.
“Did Johnny throw his lunch at me because he has a deep seeded need for my love because he was confined to a crib for the first year of his life and fed by bottle propping or is he just a two year old who said he wanted ‘nabich’ for lunch. Which I thought that meant sandwich, but clearly it meant ‘Mother I would like a grilled cheese sandwich with exactly 1 teaspoon of butter on each slice of bread, a cup of milk and a banana, and don’t even think of trying to pass off that processed American cheez food crap on me.’ Dear lord what does this mean?”
Distinguishing PI vs. 2 can be a challenge and at some point we just have to sit back and say, “yep, he’s 2.” But when does that happen. I guess it depends on when your child came home. So many bring their children home around 12-18 months. There are a few of us who get their children right at the doorway to the terrible twos. 23 months here.
Seeing the fine line between PI and 2 is an art. We want to make sure we are tending to our children’s institutionalized behaviors as to cut down on future therapy bills. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they are just being two. I tend to err on the side of 2. Call me naive if you will. So many of the behaviors my child exhibits are just being 2. I’ll give you some examples.
1. Boy throws food.
2 year old issue. You could look deeper into this as a control issue, but this is also a two year old control issue. It is also a from of testing. I am trying to see if the rules are the same no matter what you feed me, what meal it is or where we are. Two year olds test too.
2. Boy rocks in his bed.
PI issue. This behavior occurs in biological children as well as adopted children. I am sure that the behavior originated as a self soothing mechanism and has just turned into his “thing.” Children have all kinds of comfort items/behaviors. Lovies, pacifiers, blankies, a favorite stuffed animal, thumb sucking. All self soothing devices. My child rocks.
3. Boy screams at me if he doesn’t get what he wants at that very second.
2 year old issue. 9 times out of 10 he doesn’t get it right then because I can’t understand what he is asking for. I try to ask for him to repeat the request and he screams louder.
4. Boy constantly kissing owies.
2 year old issue. Children quickly learn what behavior earns attention. If you are constantly trying to pacify your children or giving in to their (loud) demands they learn that this gets then attention. Likewise, if you child is accident prone (like mine) you are forever kissing boo-boos. They will then learn that boo-boo kisses are attention and will fake accidents or make mountains out of mole hills. But this is a reciprocal behavior. You make them feel better by kissing boo-boos so they want to make you feel better by kissing yours. This is a good behavior. It is showing your child is learning empathy.
We have our fair share of PI issues in this house. I am not trying to say our life is all rose petals. But with every PI issue comes two year old behaviors. What I am getting at is that at some point we have to draw the line and realize that our children are two years old. We have to stop making excuses for their behavior. “Oh I’m sorry Mrs. Jones. Billy picked all of your flowers because he was in an orphanage and never got to see flowers.”
So my question to you is: at what point do/did you draw the line on PI vs. 2 (or any other age)? Do you still use PI as an excuse for your child’s naughty behavior? How many times a day do you find yourself wondering if “this behavior” means something more?