How to Survive the “Terrible Twos”

Just when you thought your bundle of joy couldn’t get any more perfect, in stomps the terrible twos. These fits of crying, yelling, flailing, or hitting others catch many parents off-guard. “What happened to my sweet baby?” parents ask, “And when is this going to end?”

This week, Ogden Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Brad Clark has some advice about this trying time in a parent’s life. Hold strong, parents, this “two” shall pass!

Why so fussy?

Like it or not, outbursts are a natural part of child development. There are emotional changes that take place as the child learns to control his or her feelings, impulses and actions. While brain activity is explosive at this age, kids still have a limited understanding of the world around them. Temper tantrums usually stem from a toddler’s lack of understanding and/or control. Sometimes children act up to push boundaries, but more often they’re simply stuck between the need for attention and a yearning for independence.

Taming those tantrums

What’s a parent to do? The most important thing to remember is stay consistent. That means however you decide to correct your child; it’s the same each time. Consistency also means that mom, dad, grandparents, and other caretakers are all on the same page with how to address bad behavior. If one parent disciplines differently than the other, this tends to confuse the child.

Keep a cool head. You’re your child’s role model for handling anger. It can be difficult to keep your cool with an aggressive child, but fighting fire with fire is not a good idea.

Timeouts are effective. The American Board of Pediatrics recommends one minute per year of age for timeouts. Use a designated time-out spot as often as possible.

Communicate the problem behavior. Children need to understand that there are expectations and consequences if those expectations aren’t met. Briefly and calmly explain to your child why he’s being disciplined to help him connect the bad behavior to the consequences.

Reinforce positive behavior. As often as possible, let your child know when he is doing things you like. Take time to praise him for good behavior. For children, the benefits are two-fold: it gives him the love and attention he needs while also making him want to repeat positive behaviors.


Dr. Clark practices at Ogden Clinic Grand View in Roy. To learn more about him or schedule an appointment for your child, call (801) 475-3900.