The Terrible Twos in Action

See that adorable little guy? Look at those dark brown puppy dog eyes, surrounded by the longest dark eyelashes you’ve ever seen. Just try to keep from kissing those soft cheeks: it’s almost impossible. See that cute smile? Try your best to not give in when you say, “No!” and he says, “Oh,” while looking at you with the saddest looking little frowny face ever.

The so-called terrible twos are here.

Oscar will scream, will steal Abby’s favorite blankie, and then run off into his room, slamming the door shut.

It wasn’t a subtle change, it seemingly happened overnight. My “easy” child, the one who ate anything, always listened, and had never bit or hit anyone, turned into the “difficult” child.

Until very recently, when he felt upset, sad, left out, or ignored, Oscar would cross his arms, pout, and give a sad face. Now, Oscar has begun stealing toys away from his older sister. He will refuse to eat foods that he previously would devour. He will knock his sister down with a running tackle or give her a big bear hug and pull her over onto the floor and sit on top of her so that she can’t get up. He will hit. He will climb on top of tables and throw their Little Tikes chairs like he’s a little out of control rockstar in training.

Past experiences

My daughter never did any of this. She never had a biting phase. She hit me once- but after I talked to her about it and she stood in the corner for a little while, she never hit anyone again, not even at the babysitter’s house or at pre-school. I have no idea how to deal with this.

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When in trouble, my mom always made my sister and I stand in the corner as children. I distinctly remember that I always felt it was the worst torture because I knew that my sister was doing something fun and I couldn’t see what it was because I had to stand in the corner. When we would fight she would make us hug each other until we could resolve our problem and say, “I love you.”

What should I do?

I have approached Oscar’s behavior the same way we have always tried to discipline Abby. A couple of years ago when she would misbehave we started to make her stand in the corner and count to ten. After she finished counting, we would get down on her level and ask her if she knew why she had gotten sent to the corner. Sometimes she would be able to tell me, sometimes not; we would talk about what had been wrong and if she needed to apologize to someone, she would have to give them a hug and say, “I’m sorry for —,” rather than just a quick, “Sorry.”

This hasn’t seemed to work with Oscar. I will intervene immediately. He will stand in the corner until I count to ten and then come to me; he will nod when I ask if he knows why he was punished, but he isn’t as advanced in speaking as his sister was at this age. I often get a frustratingly adorable roguish smile and then a quick repeat of the action that he was sent to the corner for.

I try to praise his good actions. I try to encourage him to “use his words” to say please, no thank you, stop, get off, etc. I try to reinforce the need to be gentle to everyone. I understand that some of this aggressiveness may be a result of his older sister always being bossy, wanting to have hugs, or constantly being in his face. I’ve even started warning both kids that I’m going to send Santa an e-mail asking for him to send an elf to our house in order to watch them more closely.

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Is it because he’s a boy? Is he just a more aggressive child? Is it because he’s just trying to keep up with his sister and can’t communicate so he gets frustrated? Is it just his age?

I’m at a loss of what to do now.

Have your children gone through a phase like this? What did you do? I would appreciate your comments!


7 thoughts on “The Terrible Twos in Action

  1. nopassingfancy says:

    Ah Sarah, I remember these stages only too well. Except my difficult child was my daughter – and she still is 😛 She didn’t have terrible two’s – I was so relieved that we’d skipped it. I was totally unprepared for ‘terrible threes’ :O 😛
    Maybe it’s not so much gender than their place in their family – my son was an angel in comparison!
    You sound like you’re a great mom and you’re doing exceptionally well. I made it through with my daughter, and she’s turned out rather well. Although now we’re in the terrible teen phase and I’m wishing we were back at three!
    Just keep doing what you’re doing – so long as there’s lots of love 😉
    This too shall pass 🙂

  2. alisonisbossy says:

    You sound like a good mom, I’m sure he’ll get back to being a sweet boy. Both my girls had about 6 months of terrible twos and then they were back to good.

  3. Chocoviv says:

    I have one girl and one boy. I try very hard to not compare. I also advocate for my son to all his teachers that he learns very differently from his sister. He actually was a very patient toddler who put up with his sister’s constant demands….

  4. jackiesreadingcorner says:

    Hi, I understand your struggle, I raised four children three boys and then finally a daughter, I am now a grandma to 3 boys although one was only born last week, the other is the 3 year old brother tow the new addition and I don’t see them very often as they don’t live nearby, I get the impression at times he was quite a handful, he certainly was when I saw him. Now my other grandson is 20 months and I have been in his life since he was born, was there at his birth. He is just reaching the terrible two’s early I think, he speaks quite well for his age picking up words very quickly, but then he gets frustrated if he can’t do something and just stands there and makes a little sort of screaming noise, definitely frustration. Now if he goes out he wants to get out of the pushchair, but if he does he just wants to run around and obviously he can’t do that in shops or supermarkets. Then the usual battle ensues of trying to get a rigid body back into the push chair. He has been a nightmare at changing his nappy since he could crawl not too bad if it’s just wet but if it’s number two a battle he will not lie down he is trying to crawl away.

    I don’t think it’s because your son is a boy that he is displaying the behaviour you mention, as I can honestly say each of my children all had and still have different temperaments. At times when I had my eldest I didn’t know I had him, I split with his dad by the time he was one which I worried about, but he was knocking me around and I felt that wasn’t the atmosphere to raise a child, so chose the lone route. He bit me once and I nearly flung him across the room as it came as such a shock and it was the top of my arm, gave him a talking to and it stopped. Likewise with my grandson I saw him try and bite his mum and dad we managed to nip it in the bud thankfully. It sounds like you are doing all the things parents do, reward for good behaviour, stand in a corner for bad. I remember watching super nanny a few years ago and her thing was the naughty step rather than the corner for however many minutes the age of the child is so for a two year old two minutes which I am sure will seem like a lifetime to your son. I know watching my other grandchild when I was visiting once they had him on a naughty spot and all he had to do was say sorry but that became to easy obviously I couldn’t say anything as it wasn’t my place, but just watching he caught on very quickly say sorry I can move then do the same again. It may be your son is just after attention whichever way he can get it, I know they soon learn. I look back now ad I wonder how I managed with 4 three were under 5 as two of my boys were due the same day but a year apart, I think I would have preferred twins. I spent most of the time raising them all alone as their father was always working away. But the funny thing is now looking back I know at the time it was hard I remember dreading school holidays and the bickering, but I would go back to that again now. I know that’s no help to you, but it definitely sounds like everything you are doing is what they say to do, you may just have to ride this age out, obviously without the biting and hitting etc. Maybe try the two minutes. It will pass. Maybe it is frustration, maybe he needs more stimulation. I do know having two was so much harder and then three boys seemed to get into so much mischief that my eldest never did. I think I made the mistake of comparing them with each other. But as we are different so are they.

    Good luck, I hope things get easier.


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