How to survive the terrible twos: Part 1

This is the first in a three-part series I am writing about the terrible twos. My youngest daughter is currently going through this and I thought it would be a good time to share what I’m learning. I am hoping to turn these types of post into a regular feature on my blog.

In Part 1 I will be explaining what the terrible twos actually are and why they happen. In Part two I will be talking you through the behaviour changes you may be seeing and how you can help your child understand what are the right and wrong ways to behave. In Part three  I will be giving you tips on the things you can do for yourself so you can stay sane during this stage in your child’s development.

Terrible twos: Image source

So lets start with What are the terrible twos?

First of all the name is very misleading because it is not only two-year old that display the behaviour linked to the terrible twos. This behaviour can start soon after the childs first birthday and for some children it can last up until their third birthday. My daughter started around the age of 18 months old.

The terrible twos are generally characterised as defiant behaviour and testing the boundaries. This behaviour can include throwing tantrums, hitting, biting and not listening to what you are asking them to do. This is a very normal stage in your child’s development. They are starting to realise they can be more independent and start doing things for themselves, which is where the power struggles with you starts to appear.

Now why do the terrible twos happen?

At 2 years old or earlier in some children, your toddler is starting to go through a lot of changes they don’t quite understand yet. They are learning lots of new things in different areas of the lives.

Motor skills

This is any action that involves your child using their muscles, e.g throwing a ball, jumping, running and this also means their fine motor skills like treading beads, holding a knife and fork and picking up smaller object.

Social skills

These are the skills where they are learning how to behave around other children and adults that are not their parents. They want to be happy and friendly to others but their fear gets in the way and they can’t help wondering: If another child will take their toy or if they push another child to get to a toy first, will this be allowed.

Emotional changes

Your toddler is now coming to an age where they can understand that their behaviour has an effect on other people and this is linked to how they learn about emotions. They learn anger when they don’t get the attention or reaction they want. They learn sympathy when they see another child crying. They learn Happiness when another child wants to play with them or they are enjoying an activity. There are lots of emotions all happening at the same time.

Intellectual skills

Your toddlers little brain is exploding with lots of questions, they want to know how things work and why they work that way. They are learning new words and putting together sentences. They are learning different colours and numbers.  


There is so much going on in your childs little body and especially in their brain , they are like little sponges, taking everything in and trying to process it all. Sometimes your toddler just can not cope with all this new information and they struggle to express their feelings and this is when the terrible twos happen.

In part two I will be going through some of the behaviour that can be expected when your child is going through the terrible twos and what you can do to help your child understand what is the right and wrong way to behave.


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