Terrible Two’s : How long they last and How To Deal with the Terrible Twos

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Development phase in kids’ life at 2 yrs and how to handle the behavioral issues. First of all, the name itself may be a misnomer. The terrible twos—characterized by defiant behavior, including saying “no,” hitting, kicking, biting, or ignoring rules—can start as early as just after the first birthday or may not set in until a child is 3 years old.

But there’s a reason the terrible twos moniker has stuck: Around age 2 is when toddlers usually hit key developmental milestones, including communicating in two- or three-word sentences, walking, climbing, and understanding concrete concepts like “mine,” “no” and “bad,” which they didn’t necessarily understand as infants,  At its root, classic terrible twos behavior is all about testing boundaries, asserting independence, and learning how to communicate needs and desires, as well as learning to recognize that those desires may sometimes be different than those of the child’s caregivers.

What Causes the Terrible Twos?

Although annoying and exhausting (likely for both of you), the terrible twos is a normal stage of development and a sign that your toddler has achieved some pretty major developmental milestones. Around age 2 is when they’re getting better at walking, jumping, talking, and being understood, and also when they begin to emulate what others are doing. They want to help clean, talk on the phone, wash their hands, and follow adult routines. But they still don’t know what’s unsafe, which is why they may test boundaries.

They’re also gauging their independence: Toddlers want to do things on their own, but they also want someone to be close by watching them and may not have the language to communicate their desires. For example, they may want to put on their socks by themselves, but they want you to watch, or they want you to help but only by pulling the fabric over their toes. And if you don’t meet their exact expectations? Hello, tantrums.

Signs of Terrible Twos

While there’s no definitive list of signs that the terrible twos are hitting and every kid is different, these common clues can tip you off to the fact that your child has reached the terrible twos stage—even if she isn’t exactly 2 years old.

Why are the twos so terrible?

Toddlerhood is a stage that spans from about the ages of 1 to 3. It’s full of intellectual and physical growth. Your child is starting to: walk talk have opinions learn about emotions

● Getting frustrated when their wishes aren’t fully understood. A common cause of those terrible twos temper tantrums is when a toddler gets frustrated that his caregiver can’t read his mind. For example, he may ask for water, only to break down in tears because you gave it to him in a red cup instead of a blue one. Once toddlers can communicate their needs better, the tantrums will start to ebb, Braun says.

● Kicking, biting, or hitting. Because toddlers may not have the words to express themselves and are still developing impulse control, they may lash out physically. As annoying as it is, terrible twos and hitting go hand in hand—but while it’s common, it’s a behavior that needs to be handled consistently in order to put a stop to it, Braun says.

● Tantrums. Crying, wailing, or throwing themselves on the floor are common elements of a terrible twos temper tantrum, a hallmark of this developmental phase.

● Saying “no.” Even if the “no” doesn’t make sense in the situation (like when you’re offering a favorite dessert or toy), toddlers tend to overuse this phrase while they’re testing boundaries and learning the power of the word.

● Territorial fighting. At this stage, toddlers are learning the concept of “mine,” experts say. Because of that, they may become very territorial and pick fights with people (and even pets!) who take what’s “theirs,” even when it’s a communal thing like a couch, chair, or specific spot on the floor.

How Long Do the Terrible Twos Last?

While it may seem like the stage will last forever, experts say the terrible twos behavior will ease up once your child is better able to understand rules, communicate what she wants and realize that the wrong color cup doesn’t mean the end of the world.

Understand (if not master) how to share and take turns. During this stage, your child will naturally want to explore their environment and have and do what they want on their own terms. That’s all normal and expected behavior.

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