The Terrible 2s

by Jasmine Carlson on September 15, 2010

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I have heard many parents talk about the terrible twos. I have heard many parents change it to the “terrific twos” because they did not want to label something that might turn out different for them that it did with pretty much the entire worlds population.

OK; so maybe I am exaggerating just a little bit, but seriously I almost get irritated with the whole thought that nothing that is going to happen to me or my child will be anything like the experience of anyone else. Why? Because I think that it breaks up the whole feeling of a wider community, a camaraderie if you will between anyone that has ever been a parent. Now don’t get me wrong; I actually do think there are not as many “attachment parents” out there, per se, and there are plenty of things that people say will happen or have to happen in a child/parent relationship that frankly I think is a load. But there are some basic things that seem to be the glue that sticks parents together in a bond of common sympathy and one of those things are the terrible twos.

It was like a light switch was turned on in my son. He went from being fairly passive to throwing, hitting, shoving, kicking… pretty much over night. And that may seem dramatic but it is true! And the screaming! He has never been a terrible screamer but this. There have been many different levels of exhaustion that I have run in to as a parent but as my son has hit two it is not so much exhaustion as it is worn out. I feel worn. The thing about feeling worn is sleep doesn’t really seem to help that much. ┬áThank God he is sleeping well at night now!

It isn’t all bad. He is funny. More and more personality is coming through and I am being introduced and reintroduced to my son on a daily basis. We have fun together. I like taking him places. That is until the thrashing starts, or the screaming. Discipline happens so many times a day now it is crazy. It used to be that he had some form of discipline every few days but it is every day now, several times a day. It is forcing me to get really creative.

Want to share about your terrible twos?

Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.

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Jasmine Carlson (49 Posts)

Jasmine is a community living mama with a passion for fierce writing and fitness. She her way on Team USA by fitness coaching. Shaping Her. (www.shapingher.com) Join the conversation at (www.facebook.com/ShapingHer)


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelly September 15, 2010 at 10:59 am

I didn’t have terrible twos, but we did have fearsome fours. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was only temporary.

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Katie September 15, 2010 at 11:15 am

I change it to the “terrific twos” because it helps me change my mindset…if I go into my relationship with my kid and just label him as horrible, terrifying, or terrible–it doesn’t give him room for being his authentic self…and I project the “self-fulfilling prophesy” that ALL of the “TWOs” are “TERRIBLE”–when really, there are some amazingly terrific times. It’s about optimism and expecting for the best and anticipating the best of everyone–instead of–”oh, he’s two, so he must be terrible.” Also, I think some parents use the “terrible twos” to cover-up for their bad parenting. Like, a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum …is it naptime, is it time to eat, is it overstimulating? Is it possible that the PARENT is the problem instead of the TWO YEAR OLD? The 2-3s can be challenging–with all the changes they go through…but that doesn’t mean we have to label it…we can just accept that it’s part of growing up…and we can do our best not to react negatively to it…and that can start by how we label it…or don’t label it…

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Amber September 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I had the same experience with my son. He’s my second, and he was my very peaceful, easy-going baby. And then he turned 2 last month and threw his first tantrum the next day now. He also started crying when things don’t go his way – shrieking, inconsolable, angry tears.

I know that this will run its course. And so far, even in the midst of his 2-ness, he’s less intense than my daughter was. But man, it’s not fun being the mom with the melting down toddler at the grocery store.

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Sonja September 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

My son turned two 8 weeks ago, and I sooooo know what you’re talking about. It feels like everything about him has somehow intensified. He is so cute, so sweet, so talkative… and so upset, so unhappy, so unconsolable. Frankly, sometimes it feels like he’s got two personalities – an evil twin, so to speak. It’s been hard, but it’s also been good.
I remind myself that he will outgrow this. Most of the time, that helps me. :)

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Lee September 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I read a statistic somewhere that between the ages of 1 and 6, children will comply only 40-60% of the time. I keep this in mind all the time to keep my sanity: a 60% day is a good day. I also try to remind myself that my toddler learns to regulate his own emotions by how we respond to his. Even when I feel like I’m losing it, I can’t show it; I must dig down deep to be empathic and calm. Emotions are temporary, including mine, and in his case, very passing. But, oh those moments when he throws himself to the floor, it gets to me each and every time! I feel like I am failing him over and over. But, this is all developmentally normal…..

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Erin September 15, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I didn’t have the terrible twos with my first but now my little boy is two … my eyes are open. Like a previous poster, my son was a very calm and passive baby – really easy going. Now he shrieks at the drop of a hat and I find myself having to take a deep breath before trying to console him and reminding myself that I need to be calm and patient – he is only little and I need to show him how to be calm and how to self soothe. It is certainly a very trying time for our family, but there are so many great times and they do outweigh the more trying moments. Like all things, this too shall pass.

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Miranda September 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm

I’m actually finding my 3 yr old son more difficult now than at 2. But he’s not a tantrumer ever. Just more agression, arguments, not listening or complying, sibling fighting with his 1.5 yr sister. When he was 20 months she was born so his terrible two year was a blur to me, but the hardest of my life. I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t flip the switch to terror when she turns two. Together they model each others behaviour so it could potentially go very bad.

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ericka September 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

my son was TERRIFIC at two.
it was the moment he turned THREE that we’ve had trouble! :P :P im at a loss! the attitude, the copying, the spazzing out….
i know, its my fault. :( LOL

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Rachel September 16, 2010 at 1:54 am

I am absolutely loving being the mother of a 2 year old – it’s TERRIFIC! Sure, there are tantrums, but some of them are mine. I’m with Katie on this one: I prefer to stay positive and I think giving children a negative label for whole 12 months is just a cop out for when things get tougher. Sometimes it is hard helping him deal with his emotions and keeping mine in check but mostly it is REALLY FUN!!!

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Jennifer September 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Two was pretty easy for us. But three…. yikes! You hear about the terrible twos all the time, but no one warns you about the threes and fours until you’re almost there. Two was so much easier because I could simply nurse him to calm him down – he very very rarely had a tantrum. Plus I still wore him all the time so it was easy to keep him happy and safe in public. Unfortunately, he stopped wanting to nurse for comfort and be worn right before he turned three. And at three they are wise to all your tricks (distraction, etc) so it makes it much harder.

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Dionna September 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I personally don’t like using the “terrible two’s” because of the negativity it automatically puts in my mind when I think of someone as “terrible.” I don’t want to think of my child as terrible at all – is he dealing with new developments? Wrestling with emotions? Learning and trying to process things without a great grasp on the human language?
Yes, yes, yes. But those things – even when they translate to hourly meltdowns – do not make him or the time I spend with him terrible.
That being said, I understand what you’re saying.
For us, the bulk of Kieran’s two’s haven’t been that bad. He’ll be 3 in December, and I’m getting a glimpse at what everyone has told me – “if you think 2 was bad, wait til they turn 3.”
I’m hoping I will come out of his 3′s intact too ;)

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Stacey September 18, 2010 at 5:59 am

Almost to the day when my loving, sweet, happy, joyful, helpful, delightful middle daughter turned two, she TURNED! I see glimpses of her true self but mostly her two-ness takes hold. She wallops her older sister if she doesn’t get her way, just yesterday she headbutted the baby because I said she had to wait for her turn to breastfeed, bed time is a battle of wills, I’ve given up on meals & just have healthy nibbles available all day. I try to look for the sunshine, but mostly I see the storms, then I remind myself that it takes both sunshine & rain to make a rainbow.

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Karen September 18, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I choose not to label this stage as “terrible” either and despite the challenges in parenting am consistently seeking positive outcomes. Something that helped my husband and I a great deal with fantastic results ~ with screaming: we learned just to let our son scream and only bring attention to it if he screamed in someone’s face. This allowed him to verbalize his feelings. When we allowed him to just be himself, stop disciplining or bringing awareness to the screaming, the screaming decreased by more than 95%. Within a week or two it was a non-issue. We thank God for the insight and implementation of this strategy and it has helped us in so many other areas of our relationship with our son.

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Elizabeth July 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm

My son is going to be 2 in less than a week and it has definitley already began. I am one that will not shy away from the word TERRIBLE. Because TERRIBLE is exactly what it is when my son hits, kicks, screams, throws himself to the floor and cries unconsolabley. I agree with a previous post that those saying it maybe the parents fault may be somewhat misguided. My son is on a set schedule, gets good naps at a regular time everyday, we are attentive to his needs…is he hungry? Is he tired? Is he overwhelmed, overstimulated, constipated, tummy ache, dirty diaper, bored….most of the time the answer is NO to all of these…he’s just not getting what he wants. I know he’s developing independence and I absolutely LOVE his little new found personality and all the other great things that come along with this difficult time…but overall as much as I love my son with every piece of my being…these are TERRIBLE times we are dealing with when we have to watch our son come unglued at the drop of a hat. But being educated on why its happening and getting tips on how to deal with it and how to teach your child to deal with it is very helpful.

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