Are the “Terrible Twos” Really Terrible?

Are the “Terrible Twos” Really Terrible?

Let’s be honest; we have all heard of the so-called “terrible twos”. We’re all led to believe that as soon as our children turn two years of age, we as parents must be prepared for lots of challenging behaviour. 

But are the “terrible twos” really that terrible? Like anything, it depends on various factors, including your child’s personality and character. Let’s face it, a lot is happening for our two-year-olds as their world becomes bigger. 

As parents and carers, we need to have abundant patience and remain consistent in our approach. In this post, we will explore some of the most common discussion points raised when thinking about two-year-olds and their development. 


There is so much information about managing young children when they enter one of their so-called ‘tantrums’; this suggests that it’s common for many children of this age. 

As parents and carers, we must understand that whilst children of this age are more mobile than they have ever been and can be perceived as smaller Pre-schoolers, they do not yet have the emotional maturity or the language skills to effectively manage many situations they face. This frustration and confusion can lead to a tantrum, where children feel that the only way to diffuse, remove themselves or be heard is to have a tantrum.

In an ideal world, we need to try to prevent tantrums before they occur. So how do we do that?

Firstly, it’s important to say that most often, tantrums are not at all a result of ‘bad’ parenting, and whilst we can usually feel in these moments like we have failed, we absolutely shouldn’t.

Consistency in parenting can be applied to so many areas of child development, and managing your children’s emotions is no different. Young children need routine, both physically and emotionally. This can help them understand what is happening now and what comes next. It also helps children understand how a parent/carer reacts in any situation.

In previous blogs, we have highlighted the importance of sleep, and we can all agree that a tired two-year-old is not an easy two-year-old. Children require sleep to re-energise and repair themselves from the physical demands placed on them. A tired child is a tantrum waiting to happen.

Providing a choice for children of this age is also essential. As they become aware of what they like and don’t like, the opportunity for choice becomes more important. You have almost certainly heard your toddler say ‘no’ quite a lot since they learnt how to voice this. By providing choices, toddlers feel that they have an opinion that is being heard and respected. 

If you have unfortunately been unable to avoid a tantrum, then remember to stay calm, try and reinforce the language aspect so that they are then able to use the language in the future in a similar situation, ensure they are safe (as we know that some toddlers can get very physical in the midst of a tantrum) and remember that punishing children of this age with the consequences you may apply to older children, is counterproductive. 

Equally, reinforcing good behaviour is a great motivator for children of this age, and they respond very well to praise.


Some of the behaviour we see at this age stems from the number of developmental milestones children of this age face. These are outlined below:

Social and Emotional Development

Children of two are starting to learn about those around them and will seek relationships with those outside their immediate family unit for the first time. They are beginning to tune into our body language and can understand what our facial expressions and body language tell them about how we are feeling. 

You may often see a toddler joining in with laughing adults, even when they have no idea what they are laughing at.

Language Development

Language Development progresses for children from 2 onwards, and they start to use 2–3-word sentences. They may now be able to use actions to imitate things that they recognise, i.e. animal sounds, identifying body parts, or repeating common phrases from their favourite stories. 

Children at this age will absorb and repeat the language they hear around them and apply this to their own play. It’s important to understand, however, that language develops at different paces for children, and so during the period where they have acquired an understanding but may not be able to vocalise a particular word can lead to further frustration for a toddler, as they know exactly what they want and need, but are not able to make this known.

Physical Development

Now that your child can walk, they will want to develop those skills to support other physical skills, like running, jumping, kicking and climbing. There will also be physical developments in their fine motor skills, such as using their cutlery more steadily, drawing with pencils, and stacking smaller items than they may have been able to do before.


You may have noticed that your two-year-old wants to try and do everything themselves or copy everything that their older siblings may be able to do. From putting their coat and shoes on to pouring their drink, toddlers always want to take on the next challenge.

Managing a Biter

The ‘biting’ stage for some children remains one of the biggest challenges for children who present as a biter and equally those who are bitten.

It’s important to acknowledge that this biting stage can often present itself because children do not yet have the language they require to negotiate when presented with a challenge, so they bite as this is quick and usually gets the required outcome. It can be very distressing for parents on both sides, and we recognise this here at Tommies Childcare. If your child is presenting biting behaviour, please speak to your child’s key worker, who can provide some strategies you can use at home to support this.

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