Welcome to the Terrible Twos


Welcome to the Terrible Twos | Houston Moms Blog

From an outsider’s perspective, the infamous “Terrible Twos” were always just kind of annoying, but not… terrible. I’d witness a family out to dinner at a restaurant and mildly react to the screaming child not wanting to eat their vegetables by giving an eye roll or a laugh to the person sitting across from me. As a high school student, I babysat two year-olds and, sure, they’d have their little quirks–but who doesn’t? Generally, in my pre-parent mind, the terrible twos were very tolerable and over-hyped.

Oh boy, was I ever wrong.

My daughter will turn two in a couple of months, and ATTENTION WORLD :: we have a full-on #twonager on our hands. The flailing, the crying, the needing mommy, the go-away-mommy, the feet-stomping, the hitting, the exclamation of NO!, the falling face down on her bed in a fit of tears, the refusals, the not-wanting-help and the simultaneous inability to do certain things on her own. If this is what having a two-year old is like, it rightfully earned it’s name as Terrible.

Just the other day, after a long time of playing with her crayons, I asked my daughter to pick them up so we could get ready for dinner. At first, she pretended not to hear me. Then when I came over to her to offer my help in cleaning them up, she suddenly threw the crayons she was holding in her precious little hands right at me, and ran away screaming “Noooooo!!!!!” I called after her, “E, please come and clean up your crayons.” …A distant “Noooo…” could be heard in response. I counted. “No! No! Nooooo!!!!!” I got up and found her laying face down on her bed. I began to calmly tell her again to listen and clean up her crayons. I was cut-off by a “NNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” complete with kicking and crying.

Sheesh. Over crayons? It would be SO easy for me to just pick up that little pile of colorful wax and avoid the drama, but I know I have to set a precedent that her messes are her responsibility. So I have to put my foot down.

I always think, if I could just get her to look at me. She avoids my eye contact when she knows she’s in trouble because when I get her full attention, she knows she can’t act the way she wants to. So I ask her, “E, look at mommy.” This used to yield a response of attentiveness and obedience. Now? Flailing. Crying. Tantrums.

At this point in the episode, I begin to question everything about my ability to parent. How do other moms make this seem so simple? Have I spoiled my child? Who came up with the parenting advice I’ve been taking? I mean, it’s clearly flawed…or maybe I’m doing it wrong? Now where do we go from here :: spanking? time-out? How long is this going to last?–I have things I need to be doing. When the heck is Daddy going to be home?!

I begin to consider just letting her go back to playing and doing whatever she wants. But, no! I can’t be beat by a two year-old! At this point, my “calm Mommy” persona has begun to morph into “stern Mommy”, which is only present for a short period before “scary Mommy” emerges. I’ve given a number of chances for my daughter to listen by now, and she has chosen not to, so I am forced to move on to punishment. For me, this is hands-down the absolute worst part of parenting.

Now, I’m aware that there is a lot of conflict around how to discipline your child correctly. However, unless you’re straight-up abusing your child {physically or emotionally}, I cast no judgement on how you maintain order in your home. When I was a child, I was spanked, probably more times than I can recount, by either parent with a wooden spoon. For a while, just the sound of the drawer opening that contained the behavioral correction tool was enough to have me running asking for forgiveness. But quickly, I became immune to the sting of the hard wood on my bare skin, and my parents resorted to punishments like grounding. 

With my two-year old, it seems like nothing works that well. I have tried spanking a few times, but don’t have the stomach to do effectively and the threats of “you’re going to get a spanking” are, I’m sure, pretty unmotivating by now. Time-outs standing in a corner or face to the wall were attempted starting from the time a defiant nature began to surface in my toddler, but it quickly became a game to her and, therefore, ineffective. Recently, I have begun “time-out for two minutes in your room with the door closed,” and so far it seems to elicit a reaction that I would deem appropriate for a child being punished. Is it terrible that in my mind crying=effective punishment? Now, unfortunately, my brief child psychology training from college is coming in having me question what kind of negative lasting effects this punishment will have. It will probably somehow make her view her bedroom as a bad place and cause sleep problems in the long run. *Sigh* So… what is a parent to do? 

Before I allow her to come out of her bedroom, I come in and ask her to sit and talk with me for a minute. She will usually oblige, and we will have a True or False type of discussion about what just happened. “Did Mommy ask you to pick up your crayons?” “Yes.” “Did you do what Mommy asked you to do?” “No.” “Is that why you got in trouble?” “Yes.” “So we should listen to Mommy when I ask you to do something, right?” “Right.” Then she says she’s sorry and we go try again at picking up the crayons. 

It could be so easy. I could just clean up her messes, shrug it all off as classic child behavior and never correct her and, honestly, it would take so much less time and less stress on my part. But teaching her how to be a good human being is my most important job, and right now, it starts with having her pick up her crayons after she’s done with them. 

She can act terrible sometimes as a two-year old. Fine, I’ll keep dealing with it for now. But my objective is for her to never, ever become a terrible person.

Previous articleOn the Eve of Thirteen
Next articleWhy I’m {Still} Raising My Children in the Catholic Church
Christie W
Christie is a born and raised Houstonian who hails from Cypress and now resides with her family in Katy, TX. She married her husband in 2012, after they both graduated from Texas State University. They welcomed their daughter, Emmy Faye, in 2016, and their son, Jesse, in 2019. Christie has loved story-telling--in it's many forms--from an early age, which is why she loves blogging; she doesn't spare the details about her thoughts and experiences in motherhood, trials of infertility, and the everyday ups and downs of adulthood. You can expect a lot of honesty, a healthy portion of humor, and maybe even some inspiration. When she's not spending her free-time blogging, she is songwriting, painting, practicing her calligraphy, hanging out with her family and friends, or leading worship at her church. You can read more of her musings on her personal domain, Little Blog of Hellos!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here