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Taming the Terrible Twos

The terrible twos refer to the developmental stage when a toddler transitions from relying on parents to seeking independence. Behaviors can include mood changes, temper tantrums, meltdowns and using the word no. Boys Town Pediatrics offers explanations and advice for parents during the terrible twos.


  • Entertainment Source. Most often a toddler can feel provoked when an item is taken away. Meltdowns tend to relate to an object or source of fun like toys, phones, a television or gaming device remote.
  • Developing Milestones. While the terrible twos can be difficult for parents and caregivers to navigate, keep in mind your toddler is developing milestones such as motor, intellectual, social and emotional skills. His or her eagerness to use the word no or control their own motor skills, like running and jumping in public areas, can lead to expressing angers and emotions with behavior meltdowns when a parent enforces rules and limitations.

How to React As a Parent

Try to stay calm when a temper tantrum occurs and offer comfort. Depending on your child’s reaction, ignore him until he has calmed down. Limit your own use of the word no and instead use other forms of discipline such as redirection or humor. By accepting the changes your child is going through and showing him or her proper reinforcement during this difficult stage will help the whole family overcome the terrible twos!

  • ​Terrible Twos

    Dr. Heather Zimmerman, Boys Town Pediatrics

    The main thing people think of when they think of the terrible twos is tantrums and this is just meltdowns over anything.  Most often I think the thing that provokes a tantrum for a toddler is you just took away something that they were messing with which in most cases tends to be technology, whether it is your cell phone, the remote to the TV, something like that they just found it and they are exploring it and they are really interested in it and then a parent comes and swipes it away, and that leads to a big meltdown. 

    Now with a big meltdown like that, it's ok they don't have the words to tell you how frustrated they are and how much fun they were just about to have and you just need to let them have their meltdown.  So if it is a provoked meltdown like that the best thing for a parent to do is turn around, get busy doing something else, don't pay them any attention and then when the meltdown seems to be settling down then turn around and hey lets now go play with this new toy or something, just distract them with something else.

Discipline;Infant and Toddler Care;Family and Parenting Pediatrics;Behavioral Health