Skip to main content




Page title

Choose a category for this favorite:

or make a new category:

Beyond Textbooks

The Terrible Twos


Sari Nieminen, Vail Inclusive Preschool


The terrible twos is a normal developmental stage marked by tantrums, defiant behavior, frustration and a “no” phase. The term “terrible twos” can be misleading, however, because tantrums can last well into the third year of life. During this time, your child may act very differently towards you from one day to the next. They struggle with their reliance on you and their desire for independence. 

Here are some recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Keep regular meal and sleep schedules. Less desirable behavior is more likely to happen when your child is tired or hungry.

  • Praise behaviors you approve of and ignore ones you want to discourage.

  • Redirect or distract when you can. Point out something funny or interesting when your child starts to whine or misbehave.

  • Keep rules simple and offer brief explanations.

  • Let your child have some control by offering a choice between two things. For example, you might say “Would you like to wear your blue sweater or yellow jacket today?

  • Don’t give in. Set your limits and be consistent. If that means your child has a full-blown tantrum in the grocery store because you won’t buy a candy bar, simply remove your child from the situation and wait until things calm down.

  • Stay calm. Your child will feed off your stress. 


  • Was this article helpful?