You and the Terrible Twos

Tips for coping with the terrible twos.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #157

Handling Negative Behavior as it Happens

Even if you have set up your preventive measures to limit the negative behaviors your child is exhibiting, you most likely can’t stop it completely. It happens. So, when it does, be prepared to handle it. Be consistent and firm. When your child acts out remove him from the situation and give him a warning. Let him know that the behavior will not be tolerated. If the behavior repeats or continues, use whatever your usual disciplinary measures are. Time-outs are generally helpful in that it allows a child to calm down, gather his thoughts, and report back to you. Allow your child to apologize for his behavior and, if possible, have him repeat back to you what he did that was wrong and why he should not do it again. Even a two-year-old can usually say, in his own way, “I hit my friend. Hitting hurts. Sorry.” Make sure to give your child time to explain to you WHY he was acting out also. You can tell him that it’s OK to be upset or even angry, but instead of using his hands or screaming about it, he should come tell you. “Use your words” is a very common phrase parents use with their children. It’s a good phrase and I definitely recommend it, especially in these types of situations. Sometimes you might need to put the words out there for your child. “Do you feel mad?” “Is this game too hard?” You could even ask, “What can I do to help?” Give your child the opportunity to explore his feelings so he can deal with them, instead of just giving in to them. In a moment of honesty, I have to admit that even as an adult, I sometimes have feelings that are difficult to communicate and I, too, give in to frustration. I think it happens to all of us at one time or another. Imagine being this tiny little child and having that great amount of frustration and no ability to communicate it. Remember this when your child is acting out in what you think are the “terrible twos” and it might give you some more compassion as to who it’s actually more terrible for. Hang in there moms and dads! This phase will pass and with a little help from you, your child will move on to the next phase of life! Let’s hope it’s the “I want to help clean my room” phase!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

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All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.