Tips on dealing with your toddler's terrible twos

How to deal with new found toddler's mystery terrible twos

By Viki Lara
Tips on dealing with your toddler's terrible twos

What are toddler's terrible twos temper tantrums?

We could start off by defining toddler's terrible twos. Parenting books will tell you that the toddler's terrible twos are a milestone development where a child’s need for independence clashes with their need for adults. The result of this conflict is regularly mood tantrums, oppositional conduct and all around moodiness. You never pretty recognize what this child will do from one moment to the next as their moods change frequently.

Usually, terrible twos start earlier than a toddler’s 2nd birthday. It could be a few months prior to 2 years old or a few months after, in any case, it will still be referred to as the terrible twos. Will all children go through the toddler's terrible twos? No, not exactly. Some toddlers cope with the changes better than the others.  

Tantrums can arise due to various reasons. But specifically, for terrible twos, it occurs because the child is gaining the knowledge that he/ she is her very own person and is able to make decisions by themselves, including learning to be independent and doing things on their own. What they didn't realize is that they do need some assistance from the parents at times and they just couldn't cope with parents helping. It gets worse when they are not able to communicate effectively because their language skills are not as fluent as they want it to be. With the inability to fully express their thoughts and emotions, they result in flare-ups we wouldn't want to be in the middle of.

Stages and behaviours of toddler tantrums

If there is one thing all toddlers have in common, it is tantrums.

Large messy screaming and flailing limbs, not forgetting meltdowns on the floor where some parents simply ignore or peel them off from the floor. Some tantrums are short-lived while others appear to stay for a bit of time. Regardless of the scale of the tantrum, there may be a clear pattern. Let us discuss the stages of toddler tantrums and their behaviors. 

1. Denial

Toddler tantrums always start with denial. Things such as totally ignoring the parent's request, or stopping to stare with a look of surprise and disbelief they're being denied their manner. In the course of this stage, they do not hear you and will happily try to do everything the complete opposite.

2. Anger

As soon as the denial stage is over, anger sets in when the child does not get their way. Verbal attacks such as shouting are paired with launching items throughout the room, screaming and crying, typically followed a dead drop to the floor, complete with flailing arms and legs just to tell you in his own way how angry the kid is at you.

3. Negotiating

Things get surely interesting throughout the negotiation stage when the child gives his/ her best to gain an alternative solution with the limitation in verbal communication. If an unsatisfactory solution is acquired, whatever you have done so far to pacify the situation goes down the drain. This trade will go on for a few minutes, till the child realizes bargaining isn't always going to work. This stage is usually the hardest because it can be really tough to change a child's mind once they set their mind into something! The harder you push them, the more they will resist, and the power struggle gets real.

4. Despair

Melancholy is the most traumatic of the tiers. In between fake tears and moments of feeling just like the worst parent ever, the toddler tries their very best to get what they want till the very end. All this is the toddler's remaining effort at turning the tables in his favor and if you fall for it, they will know that by throwing the tantrum, they get what they want! 

5. Finale

This stage is the ultimatum. At this point, the child dries the tears and walk away. Leaving you feeling like you have won the good fight. Incorrect. That is the level whilst the little mastermind moves on tto another brand new genius plan to achieve what he sets on in the first place.

6 Discipline advices on how to deal with terrible two tantrums

1. Consequences of actions

No parent likes to offer consequences, but consequences are a part and parcel of growing up. A toddler going thru terrible twos are constantly testing boundaries and limits. 

As my youngest turned 2, she became a triple threat – a hair puller, a bitter and a hitter. The expectations in our house were that children do not pull hair, chunk or hit when they get angry. Each time she did any of these things she would be told “No, please do not do that!” and she will be dealt with a consequence such as a loss of a privilege or missing out on a day's trip. 

You could decide what types of effects you want to achieve. You can give your toddler a warning before she/ he proceed with their meltdowns. That way, they will be reminded that there will be consequences for naughty behaviors the next round! 

2. Empower the kids with decision making

The two-year-olds are desperate to feel that they can make their own decisions (like a little adult!) and manage their own world. They don’t want to be advised on what to do as this makes them feel like they are not in control. Offer them the ability to make choices, but not with open-ended questions. 

A good example would be:
"Would you prefer an apple or a bread for tea?" or "Do you want butter or jam for your bread?"
Simply offer them the selection between two things which you are ok with them doing. 

3. Give them duties

Some other way kids feel powerful is that if they are given duties. A year old can do lots around the house: empty their plates, throw out a napkin and assist to set the desk at meal time etc.… letting them do these chores allows to build their self-confidence and shows that they are a big boy now.

4. Keep your own emotions in check

Screaming at an infant who's having a meltdown makes everything worse. If you became angrier, so will your child. Give your child some space to calm down, set an example for your child by controlling your own emotions. Think before you act, take 3 deep breaths. Your toddler is not wrong to seek independence, they are just expressing it in the way that is easiest to them.

When the storm blows over, be sure to give reassurance and guidance on how to deal with situations like this in the future. The child needs to understand that a tantrum or meltdown doesnt let them get their way.

5. Strive to distract the child

Take your child's focus on elsewhere.
At this point, prevent the child from meltdowns and tantrums by distracting him and offering him something else to play with. This approach works especially nicely with toddlers because of their short attention spans.

6. Cast the Kid off from the Scenario

Take the child to a quiet, separate area to relax. Avoid seeking to reason with a screaming child. Stay with your child until the/ she has calmed down. Then you can talk about the issue, or go back to other activities.


Dealing with the toddler's terrible two is not an easy task and can really take all the patience the parents have. Kids at the age of two can be quite a handful as they are starting to make out what they are growing into. However, do not fret as this is a good developmental learning curve for your child as they learn to be their own little person. The terrible twos will soon pass before you know it and very soon, your sweet little baby will be back again!