The terrible twos: a parents’ guide

What are the terrible twos? How do you deal with terrible twos? When do the terrible twos end? These are all common questions that parents have when it comes to the terrible twos. Don’t worry, with our guide, the terrible twos won’t be that scary after all! 

What are the Terrible Twos?

The terrible twos is a phase that toddlers go through when they start to become more independent. They want to do things on their own and test the boundaries that their parents have set for them. This can result in some challenging behaviors, hence the name “terrible twos”.

2-year-old kids have developed skills and are more interactive with their surroundings. They might show a variety of emotions, including affection, assertiveness and protest. During this time, most children develop their sense of self and start to want to do things independently. Don’t worry, not all toddlers have a hard time going through this phase of their development. For some kids, it can be quite difficult with tantrums and bad behaviors, while for others it’s much calmer. 

How to Deal with the Terrible Twos

While there is no quick fix for temperamental toddler behavior, you can take steps to help things go more smoothly when the terrible twos starts.

Tip1: Be consistent

First, be consistent with your rules and expectations. Your toddler’s understanding of the rules you are setting can be different from what you expect. During the terrible twos, setting firm and consistent limits for behavior is important. Most 2-year-olds just want to please their caregivers, so be sure to praise your child for good behavior and new accomplishments.

Tip 2: Keep your cool

Second, try to stay cool and calm when your child is acting out and avoid getting into a power struggle. Never get into a bargaining or blackmailing type of situation with your toddler. It might seem like an easy way out of a sticky situation, but in the long run it will be bad for your relationship and their character development.

Tip 3: Positive reinforcement

 We aren’t saying to repeat Pavlov’s dog experiment, but positive reinforcement is an important tool for raising a child. When your terrible two-year-old behaves well, listens to your instructions or has new accomplishments, respond with positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement can take the form of praise, clapping or cheering, giving a hug or a high five, or sharing with another adult how proud you are of your child while your child is listening.

Tip 4: Mental stimulation

During the terrible-twos, you will see your child become more talkative, inquisitive and very active. It’s a time when your little one will be using two-word sentences and understand simple instructions. Their vocabulary will grow rapidly as well as their cognitive faculties. It’s a great idea to read with your toddler as it will help increase vocabulary and improve verbal expression and listening skills.

Tip 5: Physical stimulation

The terrible-twos is also a period of physical development and improved dexterity. Your toddler will love climbing and grabbing things. Give them the option to play with toys that will reinforce this process and give them a little challenge. Things that get hammered, stacked, thrown… will all be very entertaining and good for them.

It’s also interesting to note that many kids that age prefer playing alone even if they enjoy the company of other children. It’s part of the development process, when imitation is an important element of their learning.

Tip 6: Don’t skip the nap

Kids get fussy, irritable and cranky when they are tired (and many adults too…). To avoid getting into an uncomfortable tantrum situation, it’s best to plan your day around your child’s nap routine. A well-rested toddler, terrible-twos or not, will be more alert and fun.

Nap time is great for your child to recharge and enjoy the rest of the day, while it also gives you an opportunity to get things done or relax.

When do the terrible twos end?

It can be a taxing period for parents, as they are trying to balance meeting their child’s needs while also setting boundaries. Most toddlers will eventually outgrow this phase, but there is no set time frame for it. Some children may start to show signs of being ready to move on to the next stage around age three, while others may not be ready until they are four or five years old.

For your toddler, learning to handle frustration and emotions  is a big part of growing out of that stage. In the end, it comes from feeling their parents support and understanding boundaries.

Just don’t worry too much, the terrible-twos are a sign that your child is developing and testing behavior and limitations to grow into a balanced adult. After that the threes and fours come with their own challenges and rewards!

Want more parenting tips? Check out my hacks for saving time

Until next time, Tania xx