Parenting during the “Terrible Twos”

The Terrible Twos 

The phrase “terrible twos” was coined back in the 1950s and has continued to be a common phrase among parents and media today. There’s no doubt the toddler stage can be a very challenging time for parents as their child becomes more opinionated and independent, but labeling it as “the terrible twos” doesn’t fix the problem. It can often cause a parent to have a poor view of their child and start labeling them as just a “bad kid”. But as we all know, even the best behaved toddler has tantrums.

So much of parenting is about our perspective. When we have the right perspective about our child, we tend to be more gracious and patient with them. Understanding what their little bodies are going through can give us the tools and grace to guide them in their growth as little humans (because, don’t forget, they’re people too!)


Tantrums are usually the way your toddler expresses frustration. Managing big emotions is a crucial life skill they are trying to learn, but the process can be messy. It’s important as parents to not teach them to suppress their emotions, but instead, to guide them on how to manage their emotions. If tantrums aren’t handled properly at this young age, they can lead to a learned behavior that continues into ages 4+.

Dealing with terrible twos

It starts with you. If you are not in a good head space when dealing with your toddler, then you won’t have the strength to do the following tips. First remember, this too shall pass. Second, you love your child. They are not out to get you. They just need your help. Getting the right perspective about your child isn’t a one time thing. Starting each day with a clear head and a clear plan will help you tackle each day.

Acknowledge their feelings. Your toddler is learning how to cope with big emotions. It is critical as parents to acknowledge their feelings instead of suppressing them. In fact, research shows that acknowledging a child’s feelings makes them psychologically strong and emotionally resilient. (Check out our blog about positively impacting your child’s mental health.) When your child acts out, you can say something like… “You’re mad because Mommy turned off the TV. It’s okay to feel mad. It’s not ok to hurt someone. You will get to watch TV again tomorrow.”

Set boundaries and stay consistent. Boundaries are a safety net for your child. When a child feels safe both physically and emotionally they are less likely to have constant meltdowns. This is not to say that your toddler won’t test the boundaries, because they will... everyday. Setting boundaries while staying calm and consistent are the keys to your child’s success. An example may be… “I know you're upset. Your thirty minutes of screen time is over. I’m going to put the iPad away now.” You acknowledged their feelings, but kept with the boundary you had set, all while staying calm. 


You will fail. Being a parent is by far the hardest thing in life. You will fail… a lot. And when you fail, simply acknowledge it, offer an apology when necessary, and start afresh. Our kids need to see that we’re human too! Give yourself a lot of grace and your child a lot of grace as you journey the “terrible” twos together. Make them terrific because they truly can be!