How Terrible Will the Two's Be?

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Categories Behavior, Safety, Toddlers

I cannot believe that we are less than one week away from having two 2-year olds. It is mind-boggling. Last year at this time, the little ones were creeping and crawling, experimenting with words. Now, they are running, jumping, and talking incessantly (although, we don’t understand a lot of what they are saying, they are sure trying). In a word, we are exhausted.

In reality, these last two years have been tiring but they have been physically tiring. Emotionally, psychologically, we’ve had it easy. I know that is all about to change. First up on the battlefront: discipline.

We haven’t had to do too much in terms of discipline to this point. For the most part, we’ve only had to worry about keeping the boys from causing themselvesharm (i.e. keeping them off of the dining room table, keeping them from eating things they shouldn’t, watching them around the stove, etc.). But we haven’t had to worry about their “behavior” per se.

That is all changing.

As they are increasingly mobile and desiring more and more independence, they are starting to…ahem…assert themselves more: with each other, with their other siblings, and with us. There is more hitting, more throwing, more pushing. Things that cause harm to others. And we have yet to find a discipline strategy that works.

Because they just don’t care.

With our oldest daughter, a mere lookof disappointment was enough to stop her 9 times out of 10. With Aaron and Brady, a look translates to a challenge. “oooohhh, you don’t want me to do that? HAHAHA! Watch me…here I go!”

We’ve tried counting. With Alaina, we have made it past 3 exactly twice in her four years. The boys, ignore us.

We’ve tried time outs. Alaina has had one in four years (the looming threat is enough). The boys enjoy them. What’s worse, is they enjoy each other’s time outs. They laugh, bring each other toys (yes, we interfere, but still…..)

Consequences? Forget about it.

Reward systems? Who cares.

Distractions? Sure. But are they learning anything from that? Not really.

They just egg each other on. And I know when they babble at each other they are really conspiring to get away with something truly bad!

So, MoMs who have survived the “Terrible Two’s”…tell me, how bad is it going to be? And what has worked for you in terms of setting consistent limits with multiple 2-year olds?

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12 thoughts on “How Terrible Will the Two's Be?”

  1. Time outs didn’t work for us either. They actually liked the alone time. Not to scare you, but two wasn’t too bad. They were still at an age where being disciplined bothered them. Three has been much harder because their language skills have developed and they’re more likely to sass. I’ve taken to kneeling down and explaining why I’m angry and they’re in trouble… it’s working somewhat. Everyone tells me age four is so much easier….
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..What’s in a Name? =-.

  2. I’m not into the two’s yet with our boys but so far it seems like discipline has been very personality dependent. Our boys are very easy going and have yet to really fight us on anything. We just redirect and off they go. Our older daughter on the other had has been ultra strong willed and determined since she could sit upright (and likely before then too). No consequence, punishment, reinforcement, pack of wild wolves could keep her from doing what she REALLY wants to do. Good luck!
    .-= Cristal´s last blog ..Need Proof? =-.

  3. The twos can be pretty bad. My twins just turned two and we are heading into tantrum territory now, with ONE of the, thank goodness the other one is pretty mellow while the other is yelling. Meanwhile, I went through the “twos” with my older son who is now 7. With him it was moodiness and throwing fits, not to mention we had major setbacks in potty training. I shudder to think about training my twins, am putting it off until next spring, probably. Discipline for two year olds is tricky, they don’t quite “Get it” but you still have to set firm limits. I must admit, I do have my mean, firm, loud, “I mean business” voice which they do respond to, because if they don’t respond to “that voice” they may get a swat on the hand as a very very last resort. When they fight and steal toys I try not to intervene unless its really unfair behaviour, then I redirect and separate them. I never used time outs and have not seen their effectiveness.

  4. I’m very interested to hear any ideas and suggestions from other moms on this one. My twins are 28 months right now and we are knee deep in trying to deal with this. Whenever one of them is in time out, the other twin is right there supplying toys, giggles, company, etc., and yes, I am right there, too, trying to separate them, but the time out completely loses its effect at that point. Additionally, whenever I am telling one of them to stop a certain behavior, the other twin is right next to us, laughing and giggling, providing plenty of incentive for the first child to continue said behavior. It is overwhelming to always feel outnumbered and like your words and actions fall on deaf ears because they have their twin sibling to provide reinforcement and attention for their misbehavior.

  5. Funny you mention this. My friend and I were JUST discussing the terrible 3’s today. Yep, not 2’s. We are past that stage. Not that we are labeling our kids, because we don’t think they are terrible, but some of the behaviors are nerve racking and exhausting. My son gets more time out in the corner than the girl.

    I think at times they tease one another. Porter will pull on her leg and she won’t like it, but the minute he stops, she wants him to do it. ugh They take each other’s toys. Telling them no sometimes will create a melt down. It’s all such a balancing act.

    One thing I will say is a strict routine is one of the best things to have. It get BORING. Really it does. For mom. But for the little ones, they thrive on it.

    I think the hardest thing is transition time. Say you are playing with toys and you have to go to the store or something. These little ones don’t just stop what they are doing. They don’t transition like we do. We have to give them time to change direction. Being patient is another key.

    I try to keep as much of a calm house as I can. Soft music. Some tv or a movie. I don’t try to fill up my days with going places. We hang out most of the day, play outside, go to the library.

    I also believe a diet of relatively healthy foods is a must. I’m a firm believer in no red dye and not alot of sugar. yes we have some junk food, but we also have alot of healthy.

    This is all a learning process for both the babies and the parents. It’s tough. It sucks at time and you pretty much want to move to another country at times, but sometimes I have a heard time remembering alot of the bad. It goes so fast.

    Hope this helps,
    Shannon in Austin
    Mom to Porter and Abigail – 3 years on Tax Day
    .-= Shannon Best´s last blog ..Take me out to the playground =-.

  6. Two is very challenging. The start of three was downright scary.

    You might all try 1-2-3 Magic, which I found to be a great read not for the time outs, though, but for the insight into behavior.

    Time outs have rarely worked for us but they do help quell the violence or chaos, when really needed.

    My girls will lose more important things rather than go into time out. Time outs just never helped us.

    When times are very rough, and some weeks just are, we do sticker charts to reward the positive. It only helps a little but it does help.
    .-= shawn´s last blog ..WS: Trip to FeilongShan =-.

  7. Two is TOUGH. Reading all the responses above, I can’t help but notice it is a lot of twin girls. My boys were very rough with each other. Biting streaks, hitting, just much more physical.

    We use 1 2 3 Magic and I can not say enough about it. Not just bc they learn that when they get to the 3, they have to go to timeout by themselves in their room. For the PARENTS to get a breather. It also gives them two opportunities to correct their behavior, so it teaches them the “right” thing to do.

    The tough part is they will learn. When one boy does something and there is no consequence, the other will start to do it. Whenever they start acting too crazy, we know we’re not sticking to 1 2 3 Magic.
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..My version of Little Red Riding Hood =-.

  8. My girls are 27 months and I have to say that I haven’t seen their behavior getting worse over the past 4 -5 months. It has either stayed the same or been better. They can talk so when they are throwing a fit about something I tell them to use their words instead of crying so that Mommy can understand what is wrong. We still have biting and running on the couch but it isn’t any worse than it was 4 months ago.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Exhausted Continued =-.

  9. My boys were just like yours in their response to time out. They didn’t care about any of our disciplinary tactics at age 2. And they were naughty, but just in a way that all 2-year-olds are a bit naughty or just inconvenient for an adult way of life. Their behavior was age-appropriate… I believe we just focused on surviving at that stage. We didn’t go out much at all, so when we did they were typically shocked enough to behave for a short amount of time. We continued using time out or a stern voice, and ignored their laughter and mockery.

    My reading recommendations have to be “Biblical Parenting” by Crystal Lutton — and I am not exceptionally religious, as you may notice if you visit my blog, but the book is about parenting with compassion and gives a lot of good coping strategies; and…

    the age-specific child development books by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg. They are excellent and help me with understanding what behavior is “okay” and just needs to be redirected, versus what is unacceptable and needs to be disciplined.
    .-= Jen @ Diagnosis: Urine´s last blog ..where i advocate using steroids for parenting enhancement =-.

  10. “My boys were very rough with each other. Biting streaks, hitting, just much more physical. ”
    Same here. My parents wanted to send them to the psychiatrist.

    They were tough to discipline for ages, and neither counting nor timeouts helped. I must admit I did occasionally slap them on the bottom (typically when they tried to do something potentially dangerous).

    All I can say is… there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. At six, my twin boys are wellbehaved, they tend to obey reasonable requests, need no prodding to do their homework.

    My 9-year l daughter only does whatever she wants – luckily she wants to be a straight A’s student and read lots and lots of books, but she has also decided to do all her homework after 8pm. I stopped having any serious control over her when she was six (this may or may not be related to me being busy with her three year old brithers at the time).

  11. We do time outs upstairs in a pack n play. It’s more “time alone”. Sometimes it’s a consequence for bad behavior—really serious stuff, like biting–but usually it’s a place to chill out during a tantrum or a place where mom can get a much needed few minutes. The kids are really able to settle themselves away from us.

    I’m a huge fan of sticker charts. Also, routine, routine, routine. They know what to expect, and how they are expected to behave.

    I’ve actually enjoyed two a lot more than 20-22 months. They are now 27 months and I love the verbal development and little personalities. Except for the biting. That sucks. (Or bites?)

  12. No discipline tips here (STILL figuring it out and my boys are 4). Just wanted to pipe in with two things – 1) boys are typically much more as you describe. We’ve looked longingly at our friends with little girls (singletons or twins) as they sit quietly and color, etc. while our boys tackle ech other and jump off the couch, 2) we definitely felt like we skated through the 2s and were slammed by the 3s (so far the 4s have been a little better).

    My only hints are 1) feed the boys as healthy as possible (I am a believer that what they eat can affect their personalities/behaviors – i.e., no HFCS, no dyes if possible, etc.), 2) run them ragged (the more active we keep the boys the happier they are. It also means they can handle the couple of down times like storytime better since they’ve gotten the wiggles out for a little while), 3) time outs are what we did and it is key to keep the one in time out from the other. If they are both in trouble, the time outs need to be in separate rooms. We tried to make it so that the child left (not in time out) was doing something fun with us – reading a book, playing, etc. so he’d be entertained and also so the one in time out would feel the effects of his actions.

    Good luck!

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