Why The Terrible Two’s Really Aren’t So Terrible At All

Before I had my daughter, I was terrified of when she would turn 2. I would hear from everyone how kids are so crazy, throw so many tantrums and scream and fuss when they’re at that age. I was never worried about the newborn stage, the self sacrifice of being a parent, or anything like that. But I was anxious of my toddler throwing a full blown, uncontrollable fit at target that would turn everyone’s heads and that I wouldn’t be able to stop. But let me tell you why the “terrible two’s” is all one big fat lie. Toddlers don’t have to be crazy wild childs at all and I’ll tell you how you can prevent all of that from happening.

First let’s talk about when is the right time to tell your kids “no”. I would see on online forums that some moms would ask when’s the right time to say no to their kids. Now, that’s something I have never understood. So many parents would act like you can’t tell a baby no. But why? If my baby did something wrong or that wasn’t nice (say for example hitting someone) I would tell her “no, that’s not nice.” And very soon she understood that that was not acceptable behavior. I don’t know why someone would delay saying no to their child. A lot of people on that forum said that you could start saying no once your child was close to two years old. Then they would wonder why their child started acting out around that same time. But imagine getting everything you want, no one ever refusing any demands you made for 2 full years and after getting that special treatment for so long, you start getting told “no” and for so many things. I think that would make anyone frustrated, so just imagine how a toddler, who is still learning how to express their emotions, would react and feel. So my first tip is to not be afraid to tell your kids no, even when they are babies. I honestly don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to tell their kids that a certain behavior is wrong and not OK to do. I don’t feel that that’s a mean thing to do at all. And your kids will understand what no means very soon. They are so much smarter than we even know.

My next tip would be to stick to your word. If you tell your child that if they aren’t listening then you would take a certain thing away from them, then you need to stick with that (even if it does make things more difficult for you). They need to know that when you say something, you mean it. If you don’t stick with your word, your kids won’t take what you say seriously. They’ll know that they can just negotiate their way out of things and that there’s no real consequences for their actions. And that’s just not right. That’s not the way the world works.

I was actually at my daughters gymnastics class yesterday when she had thrown a toy where it didn’t belong and with a little attitude too. I told her that she needed to pick it up and put it back where it belonged. At first she just looked at me and tried walking away. So I told her one more time that she needs to put it back where it goes or we were going to leave right then and there. So she quickly picked it up and put it away. Mind you, she’s only 2.5 years old. But she knows by now that when mom says something, she means it. That’s when one of the other moms there said “wow my son would’ve never listened to me. He would’ve just ignored me.” But that’s not right and that little boy needs to learn that that is not OK.

A lot of time, sticking with what you say can be more work for you. For example if my daughter chose not to listen at gymnastics, we would’ve had to leave. Now, I enjoy my time over there and I personally would not have wanted to leave. My daughter probably would’ve cried very loudly as we left, directing everyone’s attention to us. And no, I would not have wanted any of that. But I know that a little work now will pay off so much in the near future. You will have such a well behaved and respectful child who listens to you if you just stick to what you say. Because I put in that work when my daughter was younger, she listens so well now as a toddler.

I know of 4 year olds who still throw tantrums but when you look at the discipline that child gets, you’ll see that it’s inconsistent and they often get away with everything. Most of the time there is no discipline for that child. I’m tired of people saying that 3 year olds are worse than 2 year olds and then other people saying, ‘you think 3 is bad, just wait till they turn 4’. It’s all so ridiculous to me. I honestly believe it all boils down to the parenting: is that child getting disciplined and corrected for his wrong behavior? Are the parents talking to him and letting him know why that’s not acceptable? If not, then please don’t blame the child’s age. It really ruins it for those who have never had kids of their own. I know some people who are seriously not having kids because their scared of the terrible 2’s. If only they knew it was all a myth! I try telling them it’s not true, but there’s just so much fear focused around that age that they don’t believe me.

I hope these tips were able to help you. This is not to judge anyone’s parenting. This article is more so for parents who haven’t entered into this stage yet and are fearful over it. I want you to know that there is nothing to be worried about. I’d say, yes as a 2 year old kid will want to be more independent and you can let them do things on their own when you’re able to. Sometimes it’s just not practical or there may not be enough time. It’s OK to say no when you need to. At first your kids may get upset and cry a bit because they wanted to do it. But you can simply explain that sometimes they can do it but sometimes mama needs to do it. It should never escalate to a full blown tantrum though. And soon enough they’ll be more calm when you tell them that you need to do it this time.

(And just to clarify, when I say discipline, I do not mean beating your child. I don’t know why but some people think they mean the same thing when they absolutely do not. The majority of the time, discipline for me means taking away something my daughter would want, like her cartoons or I’ll send her to her room for literally 2 minutes so she can calm down. But I’ll always give her a warning before I take anything away and then I always explain to her afterwards why.)

Let me know what you guys thought of this article. And how do you feel? Can the “terrible 2’s” be avoided or is it just inevitable for every child? I’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

Paula