Here’s Why Two Year Olds Really Aren’t “Terrible”

Remember the saying, “I hope my child’s attitude will help them lead a company instead of a prison gang”? Yeah, me too. I get it; every day is a struggle with a two-year-old. It might be a struggle to get out the door. To get dressed. Eat breakfast. But that doesn’t mean the two’s are terrible.

crying toddler

Nothing irks me more than when someone exclaims that we are in the terrible twos. No, we are in the teaching twos. A time to teach our child right from wrong. A time to build their communication skills. A time to watch them blossom into a functioning child. 

The never ending struggle bus you ride day in and day out does serve a purpose. And I promise it’s not to drive you crazy!

I am in the thick of it with a two-year-old who seems to test my patience more than not, but I understand that this season is short. While intense at times, it’s a stepping stone to great growth in her. 

When you are finding it hard to overcome a rough day, remember this…

Every time they want to dress themselves, they are learning to be self-sufficient.

When they drag their feet or don’t want to leave, they are expressing their need for more free play and less structure.

When a meltdown occurs over the wrong color of cup, they are exhibiting their need to have a voice.

When the crying seems pointless, they’re struggling to find the words to express how they feel.

When the nap time meltdown occurs, they may already be overly tired. 

And when they are bawling and clinging to your feet, they are crying out for your attention. 

It can be so easy (believe me, I am guilty of it too) to react to their outbursts (check out this awesome post on reacting), but if we step back and examine the situation through their eyes, there is so much to learn.


  1. Changing our perspective is key to overcoming the stereotypical toddler labeling. When we tell them they are terrible, they eventually will believe it. No one wants their child to think that what they are experiencing and going through is pointless. 
  2. Pause and breathe. Take a minute to collect yourself before responding to your child’s demands or cries. It can help you focus on the situation rather than the emotion that overcomes you. 
  3. Find the reason. Most tears are shed for a purpose. There is usually something behind why your child is crying. When it finally clicks, it can feel like you just won the lottery. For your child, it means their communication skills are evolving and they are able to properly express their needs and how they are feeling.
  4. If all else fails, give a hug. Ask your child if they would like a hug. It usually diffuses the situation and can often get your child to calm down enough to understand them better. I notice with my daughter, her breathing slows and her heart stops racing as I hug her and calmly talk to her. 

mom hugging daughter

We are not perfect parents and we do not have perfect toddlers. And I am actually glad about that. What a privilege it is to raise children and to get to teach them in all aspects of life. I feel blessed, even when I am carrying a crying toddler out of the grocery store empty-handed. I know that without these moments, it would mean I wouldn’t have my child. 

What are your best tips for getting through the twos? 

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