The Terrific Two’s: Understanding Your Child

The Terrific Twos- Part One-Understanding Your Child

Anyone who is a parent or works with children has heard of the “terrible two’s”. We all dread it and pray/bargain with any entity that will listen that the time between when our child turns two and when they turn three will pass quickly and without much trauma to our sanity. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. 

That’s right. Today is your day, friends. Today is the day you find out that the two’s don’t have to be terrible at all, they can indeed be terrific! Before we discuss HOW to turn the terrible two’s terrific, you need to understand WHY two year olds act the way they do. Let’s discover why your child is acting like a miniature monster.

Understanding Their Brains

Your child’s brain is going through an array of changes. Big changes. Your baby was born with 100 billion neurons (brain cells) and what connects their brain cells are called synapses. These synapses send information from one cell to another. At birth there are about 2,500 synapses connecting your baby’s brain cells and by the time they turn two there are about 15,000!

What does this mean? Do you ever hear people talk about “firing” in the brain? They are referring to messages going from brain cell to brain cell. When your child turns two they begin to experience an almost 600% increase in the information they are receiving. This can cause them to become easily frustrated and not able to communicate thoughts as quickly as they can think them, which is usually the cause of many a temper tantrum. 

Understanding The Tantrums

Think of the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Think of a time that you thought there was no hope and that you were at the lowest point in your life. Now, think about your two year old; you know, the child in the corner screaming and hollering because you didn’t let him lick the door knob or pull on the dog’s ears. He is at his lowest point and there is no hope.

Many people assume young children throwing fits are brats or are spoiled, but that simply isn’t true (most of the time). Children haven’t lived the lives we have and come to the realization not to sweat the small stuff or that it could always be worse. So, before you get angry at your child for acting like something small (to you) is the end of the world, remember it actually does feel like the end of the world to them. 

Understanding Yourself

Not only do you need to understand your two year-old and what makes them tick, but you need to find your triggers as well. What are the things that you get the most upset about? Is there anything you can do to avoid particular situations that stress you and your child out the most? If not, can you do something to make these situations less stressful? None of us are perfect and there will be things that bother us from time to time. By figuring out what makes you upset and stresses you out, you can then go on to decide how to fix it or eliminate it entirely. 

Hopefully this post gives you a brief idea of why your two year-old is acting the way they do. A follow up post will discuss how to make your life with a two year old a little easier and a lot more fun!

Understanding why your two year old behaves the way they do, doesn’t always make it easier. If you’re having a bad day, check out Simple Ways for Moms to Turn a Bad Day Around. 

Photo Credits: St. John Photography, The Adventures of Oli and Lou, Danielle Jones. 
Sources: The University of Maine: Children and Brain Development-What We Know About How Children Learn

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Wittney Swyers

Wittney lives in Missouri with her husband and two daughters; Lou, a spunky almost 2 year old and Oli, her 3 month old. She is an early childhood educator who is giving being a stay-at-home mom a whirl for a year. She loves to grow her own food, is an avid supporter of animal and women’s rights, eats a vegetarian diet, and loves nothing more than playing and teaching children, especially her two daughters. You can usually find her in her backyard playing in the water and dirt or tie-dyeing t-shirts!

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    the two’s were easy it’s the three’s that are much much worse!


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