The terrible twos: a survival guide for parents

January 29, 2015

Make your child's terrible twos just a touch less terrible with positive parenting tactics, smart discipline and plenty of patience.

The toddler years can be joyful as you watch your growing child engage, explore and learn. However, these years can also be challenging for parents and tots alike as your youngster struggles to assert his or her independence. Along the way, you might encounter tantrums, disobedience and other frustrating behaviours.

The terrible twos: a survival guide for parents

Identify triggers

Even though you might feel like your toddler is having a tantrum for no good reason, something always triggers the meltdown. Sure, the trigger might be unreasonable, but it still serves as an explanation for the behaviour. Try to identify the situations that can cause tantrums. Perhaps leaving a birthday party or the playground causes your youngster to lose it. Maybe loud, overstimulating activities are too much for your sensitive child. Perhaps the tantrums escalate as your child becomes increasingly tired. Identifying triggers allows you to anticipate tantrums and help combat them.

Communicate clearly

Communication with a two-year-old isn't always easy. Your youngster's communication is not always clear—they might be pointing or talking, and you might not know what the child wants. Likewise, your child might not always understand you. Nonetheless, begin the practice of positive and clear communication now. Get down on your child's level, look into their eyes, and clearly state what you want him or her to do. Verbally praise your child when he or she displays positive behaviour. Opening up lines of communication and teaching your youngster to communicate can simplify the terrible twos.


When your two-year-old is on the verge of the meltdown, try to redirect him or her to improve the behaviour. Remove the child from the situation that is triggering a tantrum. Replace the trigger situation with one that will appease your child. Perhaps a snack on the car ride home from the playground can ease the challenge of leaving a fun activity. Avoid bribing your child out of meltdowns, because offering gifts will set a pattern. Instead, redirect to another healthy activity to help calm your child down.

If you're a weary and exasperated parent of a two-year-old, there is hope. Identifying triggers, improving communication and redirecting your youngster can help minimize the tantrums. While your growing child will surely face some challenges along the way, these tactics will help make life easier on your entire family.

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