The Terrible Twos: What You Can Expect and How to Survive Them

Nov 09, 2018

Parenthood // Toddlers


Your friends have told you about the terrible twos. You may even have witnessed a toddler temper tantrum or two at the park. Maybe your child has been fairly easy going from birth, up until this point. After all, if your child isn’t yet two years old, you likely look at their beautiful smile and wonder… can the terrible twos really be that bad?

And sure, your baby cries sometimes. Still, you have everything under control, right? You have this whole parenting thing under wraps, and you might not be able to imagine your child throwing that toddler tantrum right in the middle of the grocery store at the worst possible time.

The reality is, terrible twos are very real. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t get through them. If you’re already dealing with a toddler, it might not feel like it all the time, but you are doing amazing at this whole parenting thing. And with this guide, you’ll be able to get through and even understand why your toddler can be such a… dare we say, monster!

What are the “Terrible Twos”?

If you listened to general conversation, you might be tempted to think that a switch is flipped when your child turns two. One day, they’re an amazing, incredible, totally well-behaved little boy or girl and the next… well, let’s just say that they can be a handful.

However, truthfully, the answer is pretty simple – your toddler is a person just like you or me. It’s not that they suddenly become human the day they turn two years old, but during this period in their lives, your cute little guy or gal is rapidly developing, from their motor skills to their understanding of language. And that can be awe-inspiring and even a little scary for them. The terrible twos, as they’re often called, don’t start on any single day nor do they end when your toddler turns three. Still, what should you possibly expect?

  • Prolonged crying for seemingly no reason at all
  • Struggles over autonomy and what your child can do
  • The intense need to cuddle with you, sometimes while angry
  • Fits of biting or hitting from an otherwise amazing children

But Why Does My Toddler Tantrum?

So, imagine it for a moment: you’re this tiny person; the world is a bright, new place, but it’s also very big. You’ve started to learn how to communicate and get around. At the same time, you also have some opinions and preferences of your own. Yet, you can’t always explain what you want to do or how you’re feeling. And that’s only the start. Consider these facts about your toddler:

  • They haven’t fully learned to regulate their emotions
  • The world or the way it works doesn’t always make sense
  • They’re not sure when they’ll be truly capable of doing something on their own
  • They’re still learning social boundaries and how to interact with other

What Strategies Can I Use to Make the Best of Things?

Now, don’t get us wrong. With juggling all that’s necessary to have a child in today’s world, you’ve gotten through a lot in the first two years of your child’s life. And you will get through the terrible twos as well. There are a number of tips that can help.

Start with structured choices

Instead of fighting with your toddler over what they want, empower them. By giving them pre-determined choices, say with their clothing each morning, you help them feel in charge while getting the outcome you need.

Let them be part of the household

Toddlers love to be part of what you’re doing, so why not give them a chore or two? Simple tasks like putting clothing in a hamper, for example, can be a healthy way to work together.

Explain to them what’s happening

Your two-year-old might only be able to say a limited amount of words, but their understanding of language is far greater. Engage them! You’ll find that explaining to them regularly can go a long way when a tantrum starts, especially if you’ve already established conversation as an expectation.

Create a schedule and get them on a routine

Depending on your parenting style, a regular toddler schedule can be beneficial during the terrible twos. For example, having bath time every night at the same hour helps your toddler transition more easily to an activity they don’t enjoy and may tantrum about, like bedtime.

Appreciate the terrible twos

This might sound crazy, but sometimes you simply have to appreciate your toddler for who they are. What does this mean? Even at their most terrible, they can wow you with their perceptiveness as they develop. Sure, it can be a headache sometimes, but you also have to recognize how special your time with them is as you help them grow and thrive.

In all honesty, scheduling relaxation time for yourself and planning for delays due to toddler tantrums can do a world of good. But we’d love to hear from you parents in the comment section. What are your biggest tips for dealing with the terrible twos?

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