Tips for Handling the Terrible Twos

Why is your precious little baby acting like a monster? Rest assured that the child you know and love is still in there somewhere. The terrible twos are a natural phase in a child’s life that starts when she begins to realize there’s a great big world out there that doesn’t revolve around her. And as if that realization weren’t unsettling enough for your child, add to that the fact that she can’t yet adequately express these feelings, and you have the makings for one grumpy little toddler.

Vivi on a rampage 225x300 Tips for Handling the Terrible Twos Photo

Vivienne, daughter of Vitals staffer Gina, on a rampage through her backyard.

It could happen before age two or even at age three, and it could be short-lived, or a marathon tantrum. But by recognizing your child’s triggers and employing the strategies below, you can make the terrible twos less terrible for both you and your child.

  • Hunger, boredom, and sleepiness will feed the monster inside your precious toddler; always have snacks on hand and schedule-in regular down time.
  • Maintain a routine. The changes that your child is going through as she finds her place in the world around her are what is overwhelming her and causing her to act out. Make sure she knows what to expect during her day as much as possible, so there are fewer changes for her to rebel against.
  • No matter how many snack times, nap times, and strict routines you implement, your child will inevitably act out. The key is to handle it immediately, consistently, and firmly. In the first instance, take your child to the side and give her a warning. In the second instance, try a time-out, then have your child explain to you what she did wrong before apologizing. Encouraging your child to verbally express her feelings when she’s upset will help her to eventually overcome the frustration that brings about temper tantrums.

If you’re worried that your child is exhibiting behavior beyond the norm for the terrible twos, make an appointment with a trusted pediatrician near you.