Changing Your Mindset from Terrible Twos to Terrific Twos


When my kids were little, I was so excited to celebrate birthdays and milestones. I joyfully handed out invitations to my son’s second birthday party but was met with mildly discouraging responses. It seemed as though each person I invited responded with, “Oh! The terrible twos! If you thought the last couple of years were hard, just wait.” The more I heard this, the more discouraged and frustrated I felt. The first years always have their challenges. Was it really about to get worse?

Entering into a new phase of childhood with that mindset has a way of painting your toddler’s tantrums in a bad light. Our words hold weight and can shape our thoughts and perspectives about our circumstances and even about our kids. But by changing the word “terrible” to “terrific,” you can set yourself and your child up for a successful year of growth. Here’s how one simple word can change your mind about the terrible twos.

“Terrific twos” leads to healthy growth.

When you take a “terrible” mindset, you spot your child’s testy behavior every single time. This mindset is like a magnifying glass that magnifies every “no” your child gives. Sure, your child’s behavior may still require discipline, but if we are always magnifying their terribleness, then we are probably missing all of their terrific behaviors. This leads to more impatience on our part and lands our child in timeout for 90 percent of their waking hours.

The “terrific twos” is an opportunity for healthy growth and discipline. Suddenly, good behavior isn’t the goal. Instead, good character is. You are able to see your child’s misbehavior for what it is and help walk him or her through it with a level head.

“Terrific twos” creates an atmosphere of understanding.

Every tantrum at the store, every time your child throws him or herself on the floor, every time he or she yells “no” to Grandma makes you feel embarrassed, frustrated, and incompetent. You get red in the face, and your body gets hot. You may even begin playing the comparison game and wishing your child was different. But all of these things point to you, how you feel, and what you want.

The “terrific twos” understand your child’s developmental phase. Rather than asking why your toddler’s tantrum is happening to you, ask yourself what’s happening in your child. You’ll learn that two-year-old children aren’t trying to manipulate you. They are just learning about themselves and their world as separate from you. You are able to see a child’s personality in a more positive light and help redirect some of his or her passionate demeanor toward something a little less futile.

“Terrific twos” makes you more grateful.

With a “terrible” mindset, it becomes more tempting to gather with others and complain about your child. Together, moms complaining about their children just pushes you further into that victim mindset. Complaining can lead to bitterness and you may even stop enjoying or liking your child. It’s okay to vent from time to time. However, complaining about the terrible twos will only shape your perspective of this year as more and more terrible.

The terrific twos lead you in ways of gratitude. I remember a simple challenge from a friend years ago when she complimented me on my child’s behavior. I responded with the regular: “He has his moments, though.” I told her one day that I actually don’t know what to say when people compliment me in this regard. She told me to just say “thank you.” If your child is doing great, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. It takes hard work. Viewing this year as terrific can help you become more grateful for your child and the growth taking place in both of you.

What other mind shifts have you made in your parenting journey?

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