The Terrible Twos: A Child Development Stage

It happens to every parent: One day you notice your sweet, loving baby has morphed into a defiant, tantrum-prone child who’s moody for no reason and loves to say no. Don’t worry, it’s a normal part of child development, and your child is just pushing the envelope, testing his boundaries to see what you’ll allow him to get away with.

Here’s how to get through this tougher side of childhood.

Why the twos can be terrible
Imagine that you’ve suddenly gone through a major developmental spurt that’s given you the ability to communicate, think, and even move like never before. It’s sort of like having superpowers -- and naturally, you want to test them out to see how far they’ll get you. That’s sort of what life is like for your child during this stage. And when frustration occurs (perhaps brought on by the fact that you told him he cannot stay up past his bedtime), his mood may change, he may tell you no, or he may send a tantrum your way.

How to get through it
The most important thing to remember during this phase is to not take it personally. Just because your child tried to bite you in a fit of rage doesn’t actually mean he loves you less. He’s just frustrated. The best way to help him cope with his negative feelings is to boost his confidence, which will actually help him feel more independent (and, consequently, less frustrated). Here’s how.

Encourage exploration
Let your child feed his curiosity by allowing him to explore his world as much as possible in a safe way. If something’s not safe, tell him no -- he’ll eventually come to learn what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Offer praise.
Boost your child’s self-esteem by letting him know when he’s done a good job. If he plays nicely with his friend or completes the task you asked him to (like changing into his pajamas), tell him how happy and proud you are.

Be consistent.
Even though your child may be continuously reaching milestones, he might still have his bad days -- don’t we all! Don’t let a tantrum or bad mood throw your resolve. Soon, he’ll grow out of it!