Welcome to the Terrible 2s
Around your toddler’s 2nd birthday (maybe even earlier), you may wonder whatever happened to your
sweet, adorable child. All of a sudden, you’re witnessing:
- Temper tantrums
- Kicking and biting
- Grabbing toys
- Fighting with siblings
- Every word is “No”
- Total meltdowns
It’s the terrible 2s! Basically, your toddler’s need for independence is crashing headlong into
his/her frustration at not being in control all the time. Plus, not being able to express
himself/herself because his/her language skills aren’t fully developed yet doesn’t help the
The good news? This too shall pass. The bad news? Not for a while.
To help you survive this “terrible time, we at Westchester Health Pediatrics have come up with 6 tips:
1) Make sure your 2-year-old has enough to eat
Three meals a day aren’t always enough to satisfy a hungry toddler, especially a picky eater.
Your growing child needs 1,000-1,200 calories a day, which translates into 3 meals and 1-2
We suggest offering your child healthy snacks throughout the day and evening so that
his/her tummy never gets too empty, which as we all know, can lead to meltdowns. Foods high
in fiber and protein will keep your toddler full so he/she won’t be begging for another snack an
Healthy snack ideas:
- Sliced strawberries or apple
- Whole wheat crackers
- Small pieces of cheese
- Low fat yogurt
- Half a cup of low fat milk
2) Keep your cool
No matter how bad a tantrum gets, try not to lose it, too. Take a deep breath, leave the scene if
possible, and regroup so you can calmly deal with the behavior.
3) Pay attention to naptime when scheduling outings
Don’t plan activities at times when you know your child is most likely to fall apart, usually near
nap time or meal time.
4) Try to prevent a tantrum before it starts
Temper tantrums often happen when your child is hungry, tired, bored or feeling overwhelmed.
Anticipate these outbursts by paying attention to your child’s nonverbal cues and reactions to
When you sense that your child is on the verge of exploding, quickly redirect: change the environment,
give him/her a snack, sing to him/her, prepare for a nap, put on soft music, read a book or play a quiet game.
5) Let your toddler have some control
Letting your 2-year-old have a say in some aspects of his/her life will work wonders in diffusing
the “terrible 2s” attitude. Let your child choose what to wear today, or whether he/she would like
pretzels or an apple for snack.
6) Give your child healthy ways to vent anger
When your toddler wants to react to a frustrating situation by yelling and screaming, help him/her
find an acceptable outlet for the frustration. Encourage him/her to run around outside, bounce a
ball, splash in a puddle. Teaching your toddler how to deal with negative emotions now will pay
off in the future.