Welcome to the Terrible Twos

My cousin told me that the day her daughter turned two, there was an overnight transformation in behaviour. Her normally docile and well-behaved girl turned into an absolute nightmare. For her, that was the beginning of the terrible twos.

For us, it appears that the emergence of “little Nero” has brought with it the beginnings of the terrible twos in Gavin. I thought at first that we had already seen the terrible twos but perhaps those really were the terrible ones, or maybe this is the terrible threes? After all, Gavin is two and half and technically in his third year of life. Ah who knows…

Seemingly overnight, my toddler has become a stranger to me. Excessively disagreeable, throwing tantrums at the smallest slight, playing us up against each other, Gavin has been employing all manner of guile to wreck havoc upon our lives. I could hardly have imagined that this is the same toddler from earlier this year. If I had been gone for a while and came back to this, I would probably have had to ask if this was really my son.

I have been warned by others who have been through the parenting journey before me that it isn’t just the terrible twos, but there is also a terrible threes, fours and fives to look forward to. How lovely (read: heavy sarcasm). It seems the trials in this journey have only just begun.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure where we are in the timeline of child development where Gavin is concerned because we seem to run into these “difficult” stages from time to time. As I mentioned in several blog posts before, I thought we had already gone through the terrible twos. After a long period of pretty cruisy toddlerhood, I have to admit I’ve really been thrown by Gavin’s recent behaviour.

So what marks the beginning of the terrible twos (or terrible threes or whatever you want to call it)? For us, it has been the following behaviour:

  • Refusal to cooperate with any request – whatever we ask him to do, there’s a high probability that he will refuse or simply ignore the request.
  • Contradictory behaviour – if you ask him to do something, he will do the opposite.
  • Alliance forming – if someone is mad at him, he’ll go to another person. For instance, if he senses I am angry with him, he’ll go to Daddy. If Daddy is mad with him, he’ll look for me. Being in a house full of people means he has a lot of allies to seek help from – Ah Kong, Ah Mah, Ah Koh and Beh Koh. It appears at times like these, extended family living has its disadvantages.
  • Throwing tantrums whenever he fails to get his way – it doesn’t matter how small the matter, he’ll fly into a fit if he hears the word “no”.

There is a posture in Yoga and Pilates called “The Child’s Pose”. Now I know why it is called thus – Gavin has been throwing himself into “child’s pose” a lot of late. It is his form of protest against having to do anything he doesn’t want to do.

Hubby and I have started taking disciplinary measures to correct his negative behaviour. However, it seems that not a day goes by when Gavin isn’t under some sort of disciplinary action. It has been extremely trying and exhausting.

The parents who have been there before are probably nodding their heads in understanding. The parents who haven’t arrived at the terrible twos have something to look forward to. This appears to be another one of those parenting instances where other more experienced parents warn you – enjoy your child now before “…” happens.

Just as new parents can never wait for a baby to start walking, parents of walking toddlers wish their toddlers were still immobile. Likewise, just as we can never wait for our children to grow up so we can do more things, the terrible twos is what you have to look forward to when your toddler does “grow up” a little more.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that there will be an end to the terrible twos – at some stage. Unfortunately, there will be something else waiting for us once our children has passed this stage. Ah parenting… it’s so full of excitement, isn’t it?


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

3 thoughts on “Welcome to the Terrible Twos

  1. Yes, I see the same things happening in Jack. It is distressing to him and to us. I guess these emotions are getting too large for him to handle and he needs us to help. Tough with another one to comfort really. She sees he is upset and cries too!

    Lovely pic of you and Gavin looks so cute!


  2. Grace – it is an interesting journey. I can’t think of any other that has tested me in so many ways and also given me so much joy at the same time.

    Mephala – it is frustrating. I have to remember that he’s only a toddler but sometimes it’s hard. It’s such a fine line to walk along that I often don’t know if I’m following it right.


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