Toddlers Aren’t Going Through The ‘Terrible Twos’ — They’re Just Learning About The World

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I’m not sure who coined the phrase “terrible twos,” but it’s one of the most common terms out there when it comes to describing toddlers. And there’s no secret as to why this age is often described as terrible. Two-year-olds have their fair share of temper tantrums, and the word that comes out of their mouth the most often tends to be “no.” However, before you’re quick to label a toddler as going through the terrible twos, there are a few things to consider.

Dr. Tovah Klein does a good job at providing some perspective in regards to toddler behavior, specifically the two-year-old kind. “Toddlers do or say many things that from an adult point of view appear to be irrational, unsocialized, or even absurd. Indeed, many of our toddlers’ seemingly illogical choices make us parents very nervous,” she explains

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“We can get embarrassed,” Dr. Klein continues. “Our response? We tend to overcorrect them, or criticize them, or simply stop them. As adults, we see our toddlers’ erratic behavior as needing to be controlled because they seem so out of control, which, from an adult view, they might be. This is when we tend to fall back on generalizations about the classic ‘terrible twos’—or threes or fours.” 

“We see kids this age as misbehaving or rude or not listening or losing it or throwing temper tantrums over nothing. But when looked at with fresh eyes, these misbehaviors can make sense, even to us,” says Dr. Klein. “Then you will be able to guide your child through it to a more socialized way of being. Eventually.” So how do you guide your child to this more socialized way of being? There are quite a few different methods. 

According to Dr. Klein, these are the six key ways a parent can interact with their toddler:

1. Mirror back a sense of safety and relative order.

2. Listen to children instead of always talking at and directing them.

3. Give children freedom to play and explore on their own.

4. Allow children the space and opportunity to struggle and fail.

5. Work to understand who each individual child is and what they need at a given age.

6. Provide children with limits, boundaries, and guidance.


It’s important to remember that children, and specifically toddlers, don’t understand the world like we do. So when they throw a tantrum or act disobedient, it’s usually because they’re not yet able to develop a “socially acceptable” response to any given situation. Be patient with your child, and try to look at things from their point of view. In time, they’ll grow up to be the people they are meant to become.

Thanks to Dr. Klein and Motherly for sharing this great information.