Surviving the Terrible Twos


As a parent of a two year old, or a child who once was two years old, I am assuming the above image is one you are quite familiar with?

My daughter turned two in February and no more than a month passed  before some sort of phenomenon occurred. This thing they call “the terrible twos!” I must say, it took me a little off guard. I can still remember the week it all began – just like a switch went off. I was not used to my sweet little girl telling me… make that yelling at me…”NO!” when it came to pretty much anything and everything! I began losing my patience – a lot – and really trying to find creative ways to get my daughter to once again do the simple things she once did for me without the argument… like putting on her shoes or coat to leave the house, or getting into her car seat when I picked her up from daycare. Being close to 9 months pregnant made it all the more difficult to try and stay in control of the situation too. So many times I wanted to just raise that white surrender flag just because I didn’t have the energy to deal with it. Thankfully my husband would step in and support me when I was at my wits end. I also found some valuable information on this whole “terrible twos” stage of development.

This article discusses a great point. Caroline is not purposely trying to be defiant and rebellious but instead is trying to express her need for independence and this is the only way she can effectively communicate that. Also within the article tips for helping your toddler through the terrible twos are discussed including:

  • having a regular routine for meals, naps, bedtime, etc. and try to stick to them each day
  • offer limited choices only, like ‘would you like apples or oranges for your snack’ and not just ‘what do you want for your snack.’ This helps your toddler feel like he is making some decisions and has power over things, but he isn’t able to choose unacceptable alternatives.
  • learn to set limits about things and don’t be surprised when your toddler tries to test those limits to see what he can get away with
  • don’t give in to tantrums
  • begin to use time-out and taking away privileges as discipline techniques
  • provide your toddler with a safe environment that is well childproofed to explore and play in. It really isn’t fair that your toddler should get in trouble for playing with something he isn’t supposed to if you left it within reach.

Of course every parent and child is different and you have to do what works for you. I have noticed a positive change with using the above tips. It’s definitely not always easy to stick with and follow-through (by any means) but it has had a positive effect in our house!

Anyone out there have some useful, tried and true, tricks of the trade they would like to share?

7 comments on “Surviving the Terrible Twos”

  1. Thanks for the advice. Our little one is 16 1/2 months and already getting in that Terrible Two stage. She wants to decided on everythign herself, wants to do everythign herself, and wants to tell you what to do. Some days its a battle; specially since she still has a limited vocabulary at this point so many times its really hard to figure out what she wants. She will want a snack and ask for something but you might not be able to make it out exactly what she wants so she gets mader and mader until she is at the point of screaming for it. At least we still get a please and thank you most times.
    We just can’t wait to see what 2 and 3 will bring.
    Oh the joys of children. You got to love um.

  2. Yea…three is horrendous. I have to say. Ugh. My advice is wine, lots of wine. Hahahaha 🙂 I have found that at our house, choices make it so much worse. Nate is a tantrum thrower like no other, and any kind of decision making just riles him up. If I say “do you want brown pants or green?” he will literally shout “I won’t wear any pants!” and run off. If I catch him off guard and say “Pants time!” and toss some on his little Spiderman-covered tightie-whitie bum we’re usually good to go 🙂 Good luck.

    1. I concur with Kate, three was pretty bad with my son! But my daughter seems to be jumping on the Terrible Two bandwagon. Oh, and I love that picture… absolutely adorable!

  3. also really really important not to take any of it personally. they love you. they know you love them. they are two. they will not hold it against you when they are a teenager. Then they will likely try to mean it personally 😉

  4. Great post Carly. My son, Reid, turned 2-and-a-half, last month. I really think it’s important to keep a sense of humor and your point about “not purposely trying to be defiant and rebellious” is an important one. Honestly, Reid drives my wife crazier than he drives me. Emotions are so fleeting at their age. If he is screaming when we get out the door of our house, he’s usually over it by the time we get to the end of our street. Great picture and great blog post.

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