how to avoid terrible twos

The Ultimate Guide to Avoid Terrible Twos


The term “terrible twos” refers to the stage in a child’s development when they reach two years old, and it can be a trying time for both parents and children. At this stage, toddlers begin to assert themselves and push boundaries, which can lead to challenging behavior. However, with the right strategies and interventions, parents can help prevent this difficult stage from becoming a major problem. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about terrible twos and how to avoid them.

Definition of Terrible Twos

Terrible twos is a term used to describe the developmental phase that typically occurs between the ages of 18 months and three years. During this time, toddlers begin to test their boundaries and assert their independence. This can result in challenging behavior such as tantrums, defiance, whining, and crying.

Understanding the Developmental Stage of a Child at This Age

At two years old, children are rapidly developing cognitively, physically, and emotionally. They’re starting to build their own sense of identity and learn more about the world around them. They’re also becoming more socially aware and able to interact with others. This is an exciting time of discovery for your child, but it can also be challenging as they start to push boundaries.

Why It’s Important to Avoid Terrible Twos

While challenging behavior during this developmental phase is normal, it’s important to address it early on before it becomes a habit that is harder to break later on. Addressing negative behavior early on can also help prevent behavioral problems down the line.

Signs of Terrible Twos

Terrible twos behavior includes both cognitive signs (related to thinking and understanding) and behavioral signs.

Behavioral Signs of Terrible Twos

Tantrums: Toddlers at this age may have frequent tantrums, including screaming, kicking, and crying.
Aggression: Your child might become aggressive towards others, which can manifest in biting, hitting, or pushing others.
Whining and Crying: Toddlers at this age may use constant whining and crying to express themselves.
Noncompliance: Children may refuse to listen to rules and instructions from parents or caregivers.

Cognitive Signs of Terrible Twos

Inability to Express Emotions: Toddlers may not yet have the language skills to express their emotions effectively. As a result, they might act them out instead of verbally communicating them to adults.
Difficulty Communicating Needs:Toddlers may find it hard to communicate their needs adequately, leading to frustration and negative behavior.
Short Attention Span:In addition to difficulty communicating, toddlers at this stage often have a short attention span. This makes it challenging for them to focus on one task for an extended period of time.

Causes of Terrible Twos

While there isn’t necessarily one single cause of terrible twos, there are many factors that can contribute to difficult behavior during this developmental phase. Some of the most common are:

Parenting Practices That May Contribute to Terrible Twos

Children often model behaviors they observe around them. If parents use harsh language or punishments that don’t work well with children of this age during earlier stages of development, their toddlers might display negative behaviors later on. Therefore as a parent you should try as much as possible not to lash out your anger on your child.

Biological Factors That May Contribute to Terrible Twos

Two-year-olds are at a stage of rapid development. Their brains are growing and changing daily, and they’re learning new skills and ideas at an astonishing rate. However, this rapid pace of development can sometimes lead to less-than-ideal behaviors for children who may not have the emotional maturity to cope with their changes.

Environmental Factors That May Contribute to Terrible Twos

There are many environmental factors that can contribute to a child’s difficult behavior, including:
– Conflict or tension within the family
– Financial stress or instability
– Changes in daily routine
– Lack of sleep or adequate rest

Strategies To Prevent Terrible Twos From Happening

Fortunately, there are several strategies parents can use to prevent terrible twos from happening, as well as to manage challenging behaviors when they do arise.

Early Prevention and Intervention

Effective Communication with Your Toddler:
Consistent and effective communication with your toddler is essential at this stage. Here are several techniques that you can use as a parent:

Active Listening Approach:
This approach involves giving your child complete attention, both verbal and nonverbal, when they’re communicating. Pay attention to their body language and facial expressions while listening actively.

Model Good Behavior:
Young children often learn by observing others around them. Therefore it’s essential that, as a parent; you model proper behavior responses toward your child rather than reacting harshly when things go wrong. Using calm voices and rational responses in frustrating situations will encourage your toddler model similar behavior.

Acknowledge Their Feelings:
When toddlers feel like their emotions are being understood, they’re more likely to communicate more about what they’re feeling and why they behave the way they do. It is important that you validate their feelings by acknowledging them.

Encourage Independence:
Toddlers are beginning to develop a sense of independence; it’s essential you encourage them accordingly. Encouraging your toddler to explore their environment within safe boundaries will help them learn independent behaviors in different situations.

Give Them Choices:
Toddlers love to feel like they have control over their world. Giving your toddler simple choices every day, such as what snack they want to eat or what toy they want to play with, can help promote independence skills while also making them feel more confident when making decisions.

Set Clear Limits and Expectations:
Defining clear expectations and limits to your child gives him/her a sense of direction when interacting with parents or caregivers and can be incredibly helpful in preventing undesirable behavior.

Teaching Self-Regulation Techniques to Your Toddler:

Helping your toddler learn self-regulation techniques will help them handle their emotions better. Here are some techniques:

Breathing Techniques:Deep breathing techniques, like yoga breathing exercises can help relieve stress and calm down an upset or frustrated child.

Relaxation Techniques: You can also use other relaxing activities, like guided relaxation audios and meditation for children, which will help encourage calmness and improved focus for kids.

Self-Awareness Exercises: Toddlers should be made aware of the physical sensations in their bodies that accompany different emotions (like feeling relaxed or tense). This helps them know how different emotions physically manifest in the body and allows them to self-soothe when necessary.

During Terrible Twos

Redirecting Their Behavior When Necessary (The Dos and Don’ts):
Parents should redirect their toddlers’ negative behaviors during terrible twos. This can be done by distracting them with a different type of activity or changing the environment settings.

Using Positive Reinforcement Whenever They Display Good Behavior:
As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to take note and praise your child when they exhibit good behaviors. Instead of entirely focusing on the negative behaviors alone.

Discipline Techniques for Toddlers to Help Reinforce Positive Behavior

While it is important to intervene early to prevent terrible twos behaviors, parents are likely to encounter challenging behaviors at some point during this stage. Here are several discipline techniques parents can use:

Time-Outs (How, When, and Why):
Time-outs involve removing the child from the situation and placing them in a non-stimulating area away from distractions for a while. Commonly, time-out periods last as long as their age for maximum effectiveness.

Rewards Chart for Positive Reinforcement (How, When, and Why):
Rewards charts are often used as incentives for positive behavior reinforcement in children. Parents should pin the chart where the child has access every day and have stickers/stamps for each desirable behavior completed.

Ignoring Bad Behavior (How, When, and What Type of Behavior):
Sometimes ignoring negative behavior may work to extinguish it over time, especially if it’s attention-seeking behavior. Parents should ensure to discern between benign attention-seeking behavior from other unacceptable conduct that results in harm or injury to others.


In conclusion, preventing terrible twos from happening requires constant communication with your toddler, promoting independence skills, and teaching self-regulation techniques like breathing exercises and meditation. Additionally, we’ve highlighted some helpful discipline techniques such as using rewards charts and timeouts. By following these strategies, parents can create boundaries while building a positive emotional connection with their child that reinforces good behavior.

FAQs About How to Avoid Terrible Twos

1. What are the terrible twos, and how can I avoid them?

The “terrible twos” is a stage in a child’s development where they start to assert their independence and test boundaries, often resulting in tantrums and challenging behavior. While there is no foolproof way to completely avoid this stage, there are strategies that caregivers can use to minimize its impact.

2. How can I communicate effectively with my toddler?

Clear communication, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key when dealing with toddlers. Use simple language and be precise when giving directions or setting expectations. Encourage good behavior through praise and rewards, rather than constantly focusing on negative behavior.

  • Clear communication: Use simple language and be precise when giving directions or setting expectations.
  • Consistency: Stick to established rules and consequences consistently over time.
  • Positive reinforcement: Encourage good behavior through praise and rewards rather than constantly focusing on negative behavior.

3. How important is routine in managing toddler behavior?

Routine plays a vital role in all aspects of a child’s growth and development. Toddlers thrive on structure and predictability, which helps them feel secure and encourages positive behaviors such as self-regulation of emotions. Establishing consistent meal, nap, playtime, and bedtime routines can help reduce stress for both the child and caregiver.

4. Should I use timeout for discipline?

Timeout can be an effective means of discipline for toddlers if used correctly. It should be used sparingly and only for serious misbehavior that could cause harm or injury to the child or others. The timeout location should be boring, devoid of stimulation, and age-appropriate in duration (1 minute per year of age). It is crucial to remain calm, provide minimal interaction during the timeout, and explain the reason for the punishment clearly and simply.

5. How can I encourage good eating habits in my toddler?

A healthy diet is essential for a toddler’s growth and development. Offer a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Avoid using food as a reward or punishment for behavior, and make mealtimes enjoyable by eating together as a family. Toddlers often imitate their caregiver’s eating habits, so model healthy eating behaviors yourself.

6. What is the importance of maintaining a calm tone when dealing with challenging toddler behavior?

Toddlers are highly sensitive to their caregiver’s emotions and often mirror them back. When communicating or disciplining your child, it is vital to remain calm, clear, and composed. Losing your temper or yelling can make toddlers feel overwhelmed and escalate challenging behavior.

7. What if my toddler’s behavior problems persist despite my best efforts?

If your child’s behavior problems are persistent and affecting their daily life or development milestones, seek guidance from your pediatrician or a mental health professional who specializes in working with young children and their families.

  • Pediatrician: A pediatrician can provide guidance on typical development and identify any underlying medical concerns that could be contributing to your child’s behavior issues.
  • Mental health professional: A mental health professional who specializes in working with young children and their families can provide strategies for managing challenging behaviors and support for caregivers.

keys takeaways

Avoiding the Terrible Twos: Four Key Takeaways

1. Prepare for Change

The first takeaway is to prepare for changes in your child’s behavior before they even begin. Make sure your child gets enough rest, food and attention. Also, be prepared to adjust to sudden changes in their mood or attitude, as they could experience a buildup of frustration or confusion.

2. Stay Calm and Consistent

Children naturally test boundaries, especially during the toddler stage. Avoid yelling or aggressive behavior in response to their actions, instead show them a clear and consistent line of behavior. This will stabilize their understanding of what is expected of them and avoid a negative loop of behavior.

3. Use Distraction Techniques

Toddlers love throwing tantrums, but this shouldn’t be the only way they learn to deal with frustration. Instead of telling them “no” all the time, offer alternative activities or diversions that will keep them engaged in more acceptable forms of play or discovery. This will give them an opportunity to direct their energy positively.

4. Maintain Open Communication

Like adults, toddlers can get overwhelmed when there is too much going on around them. Help your child feel heard so they can process their emotions better by giving them ample attention and talking to them about what they may be thinking or feeling.

  • By implementing these tips early on, you can avoid having to deal with the dreaded “Terrible Twos”. Remember that consistency and calmness have power!
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