The Terrible Twos: This is Normal, Right?


My mother is convinced that Piglet is afflicted with the developmental curse generally known as the Terrible Twos.

I am going to assume that in ordinary parlance this means that toddlers are expected to have a lot of tantrums.  Now tantrums I can handle.  I think I understand them.  I definitely read some stuff on the internet about it, which may or may not be accurate.  Something to do with said toddlers being unable to manage their emotions, so having a total meltdown.  That I can understand.  It can’t be easy when the extent of your vocabulary consists of shouting “CHOO CHOO!” at real and imaginary trains, and a repertoire of animal noises, mostly domestic animals plus a generic “RAAARRR” for everything else.  Despite having a vocabulary I consider somewhat satisfactory, and the ability to make myself heard most of the time, I’m pretty sure I only grew out of the tantrum stage myself a few years ago, and there are times when I think I might still be in it.  What I am more worried about is the defiant behaviour.  I’ve written about this before, but it seems to be escalating with each passing day, especially since mastery of the word “NO.”  Is Piglet destined for a career as a master criminal, or just a common or garden ASBO-collector?  Either way, I am looking for you all to tell me that this is normal, right?

Now, it’s difficult for me to judge whether Piglet is above average, average or even below average in terms of behaviour “episodes,” because besides my aunt’s constant reminders of That Legendary Tantrum I had whilst in her care once in 1982 when I refused point blank to use a toilet and held in my effluvia until a suitable potty was duly purchased, I have no useful benchmark of toddler behaviour with which to compare Piglet’s relative performance on this score.  However, I do know that my mother is increasingly worn out at the end of each day she spends looking after him, and today, one of those rare days when I had the privilege of his company all to myself, the tantrum line up was as follows:

  1. Lying down on the floor of the bus in protest because I wouldn’t let him climb onto the back seat and look out the back window without my holding him there in case the bus came to a sudden stop and he went flying.
  2. Persistently running around in circles during an outdoor carol concert, to the point where I judged that he was increasingly likely to get either run over on the nearby main road or lost in a crowd of people, so I had to swiftly take him home.
  3. Refusing to sit in pushchair (various times throughout the day)
  4. Refusing to go to bed.
  5. Refusing to climb into bed, and hitting me repeatedly when I suggested he do so.
  6. Refusing to put on clothes.
  7. Refusing to take off clothes.

This is all perfectly normal toddler behaviour, right?  For the love of God somebody please tell me this is all perfectly normal, because I am currently worried that I have ruined Piglet by not getting him into a routine by the age of three months that involved a bottle of expressed breastmilk before bed, a nightly bath and bedtime at 7pm on the dot, to be followed by a night of uninterrupted sleep, as prescribed by Gina Ford.

Am I supposed to be giving him time outs?  Am I supposed to put him on the naughty step?  Am I supposed to be a gentle parent and do some gentle parenting shizzle I haven’t quite worked out yet that doesn’t involve either of the first two options?  All I can do is repeat the mantra that this too shall pass, and hope that it passes soon, rather than continuing into his teenage years leading inexorably to the dreaded weekly call from the head teacher’s office, as I am called upon to defend him in the face of yet another exclusion.  What was it this time?  Hitting?  Kicking?  Lying on the floor wailing?  Is he still refusing to wear clothes and having to be chased around screaming with just a vest on, draped around his shoulders like an obscenely short toga?

Just tell me this is all perfectly normal, and I have not birthed a monster, right?

31 Comments Add yours

  1. TOTALLY normal, fear not!

    1. Min says:

      Thanks-glad it’s not just me!

  2. MMT says:

    We are in this together Min… only my TT has a forte for dress / shoe specifications.
    Sometimes the sheer determination applied to such random and mundane scenarios can make me burst out laughing. Or crying. How can a two year old be so controlling… she’ll go far that one. Possibly as a dictator though.

    1. Min says:

      Haha, yes, they are tiny dictators! Piglet’s determination over the clothes he will or will not (usually the latter) wear is phenomenal. Glad to hear it’s not just him!

  3. Anna says:

    I hope it’s normal! My 2 1/2 year olds new favourite response to all that irks him is to launch himself at his sister and bite her. Most recent reason is because he didn’t want to watch the film she is watching. I fear he’s gone savage sometimes.

    1. Min says:

      Oh no! Luckily we haven’t had *many* biting episodes here yet (although there have been one or two!) Glad to hear it’s normal though and hopefully they will grow out of it!

  4. Really sorry I can’t help you here, I don’t know what is normal either. I THINK it may be normal. Kids are nuts. I have a similar story when I was young, but instead of refusing to use the toilet I would go hide in a closet until they brought me the toilet lol. #schoolsout

    1. Min says:

      Haha, that is brilliant! Piglet hides when he does a poo which I guess is something fairly similar.

  5. Mama Zen says:

    Ha, ha. I love this. All totally normal! My daughter is nearly 4 and still having epic tantrums. I’m not sure how normal that is? A two year phase? Arghh.

    1. Min says:

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one! I may be in it for the long haul then :/

  6. I’m back for the #SchoolsOut linky and still say it’s all normal – in fact apparently 3 year olds are just as annoying at Christmas time too! Just ask my family who just had to deal with my son!

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for linking up!

  7. Steph d says:

    I’d say it’s totally normal small person behaviour. The fact that you’re on top of him means he will outgrow it eventually. Thanks for hosting #schoolsout. Xx

    1. Min says:

      That’s reassuring to hear! Thanks for linking up.

  8. Lisa says:

    Well it was a long time ago, but if I remember correctly, yes this is normal toddler behaviour. If it’s any consolation, my 13 year old had a melt down this morning, because she had a hair out of place #SchoolsOut x

    1. Min says:

      Oh no it never ends then! I guess there are just different challenges as they get older. Thanks for linking up!

  9. It’s normal, normal, normal…. At least it is in my day ? It is exhausting, it is hard to tell what will make them drop to the floor and it is getting easier now H can say a few more works (even if she’s screamed for 10 minutes already).

    I do hear it does pass, and I live by that old mantra, it’s a phase ?

    Thanks for hosting. Xx #schoolsout

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for linking! Yes I think once Piglet’s speech is better things will be less frustrating for him and hopefully that will make things easier. Hopefully…

  10. ‘Effluvia’ – amazing! I love the way you write. Super normal of course, as you know really – it’s just really hard to remember that mid strop! I think I was pretty lucky, M had grumps and whinges instead of full blown tantrums… and I’m about a year off with Little P!
    Good luck with the next bout… #SchoolsOut

    1. Min says:

      Thanks! Yes, I know it’s normal, but there are moments when I doubt myself and fear I have birthed a monster.

  11. This is NORMAL my love. Today my nearly 2 year old twins had such wonderful tantrums 50 metres down our road that I said I was turning back and not going to the park and someone knocked on a window to see if I needed help!!!! Anyway we did make it to the park but there was such a furore over me daring to put them in the buggy until we got to the park that it was in the balance for a bit. I get hit – a lot. I hear ‘no’ hundreds of times a day and I go to work with teenagers to have a break and have some sane conversation (ha ha!). Because they are twins they pull each others hair and also pinch each other too…. see that’s why I have to write the #rockingmotherhood post the other day – the truth is out now :-). I just keep reminding myself…this phase too will pass…. Good luck! x

    1. Min says:

      Oh gosh it must be at least twice as bad with the two of them to manage! That is hilarious about someone offering to help, but quite sweet of them too! Indeed, this too shall pass!

  12. Oops – so carried away forgot #schoolsout

  13. Claire says:

    Totally normal! I find my eldest is pretty well behaved, but my youngest is just about to turn one and already proving far more defiant, so we’ll have to wait and see there! #schoolsout

    1. Min says:

      They all have their own personalities don’t they? Piglet has always been pretty strong-willed to be honest!

  14. Yep standard, I think it is because they are starting to learn language but still struggle to express there wishes so they feel frustrated a lot. Just remember it will pass and honestly it does get better as I have been to known to cry in another room when it got really difficult. X #schoolsout

    1. Min says:

      Yes, I agree-I think once Piglet has a better grasp of language-and also a better understanding of why he can’t always have exactly what he wants, when he wants it, then this stage shall pass.

  15. jdawgswords says:

    I’m from a different generation…where defiance was painful…now adays we supposed to wear gloves and have patience with defiance…it is indeed a stage…but if defiance carrys into the teen years…those cops willing to lock you up for using corporal punishment will be slamming your child on the ground and locking them up for refusing/rebelling, against their commands…abuse should be punished but not fair discipline…but I’m from a different age

    1. Min says:

      Eek! Hopefully it won’t get to that stage. Thanks for commenting.

      1. jdawgswords says:

        You’re doing a great job…you’ll blink and the 2yr old will be the grandchild

  16. Morris Barnes says:

    It all sounds quite normal. But better to understand what they are reacting to and how you can teach them different reactions. Don’t let it overwhelm their primary life. It could become a habit. ps punishment should never include physical or abusive, there are better ways of teaching new behaviours.

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