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Timeout with Nanny Robina: Two-Year-Olds and Tantrums


I have a two-year-old boy and within the last month he has started not listening, pushing kids at daycare and overall misbehaving. He says “no” all the time. He used to be on his best behaviour at papa and grandma’s, but now he has tantrums there. My husband is the stay-at-home dad while I work. My son goes to daycare two half-days and one full-day a week. Is it something we’re doing or not doing? We feel like we are losing our patience and our minds…help!

People profile nanny robina - timeout with nanny robina: two-year-olds and tantrumsAnswer:

They don’t call it “Terrible Twos” for nothing. Around age two, children begin to go through what some psychologists call the “separation and individuation” stage, also known as the “pain in the butt” stage. (It might also be considered good training for the next “individuation” stage which is, guess when, adolescence.) Two-year-olds are beginning to feel those first moments of independence. What you’re seeing is a time of testing – testing your patience and your ability to stand up and show your two-year-old who is the boss! Here are some tips:

  • Don’t let yourself be defeated by the tantrums and manipulations of a two-year-old.
  • Make sure Mom and Dad are on the same page when it comes to how you deal with tantrums.
  • Stay calm during a tantrum and remove your son to a place where he can calm down.
  • Pick your battles. Pushing other kids is not unusual, but it’s not OK either. Set your rules and stick to them. Eventually your toddler will think a bit before he acts, but by no means will he give up the tantrums and turmoil he is about to put you through. That would not be normal!

The key here is to get tough but balance it with compassion. You may feel like you’re being overly strict, but at the end of the day you need to give your son the guidance he needs in order to be happy, well mannered and well adjusted.

Published in October 2010.

a man carrying two children

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