Two Be Do Be Doooo


Being two years old is rough work. Exhausting, really. It takes all that Bean has to hurl himself emotionally onto the floor in order to let me know that he would rather have water than milk with his dinner. These kinds of statements don’t just happen, people. Two year olds put blood, sweat, and tears into their decision making. Being two ain’t for the fainthearted.

Neither is being the mother of a two-year-old.

Can I be honest with you? I feel like a total failure about 85% of the time with Bean. Like, I must be doing something wrong for him to have such explosions of emotions and tempers. I do what everyone says to do, I ignore the behavior that I don’t want to encourage. But this just seems to exasperate the problem.

After a whole year of ignoring the bad behavior, I decided last month that I was over that. It didn’t correct his behavior or show him what he should be doing instead and he didn’t seem to have a problem laying on our kitchen floor wallowing. And, quite frankly, I was tired of hearing him wallow. Now, when Michael flips out, I do one of two things. If he’s flipping out about a frustration he has that I can help him with, I go to him and tell him very calmly that I can’t hear him when he is crying. Then I wait and 9 times out of 10 he gets himself together and tells me what is wrong. The other times when he is upset simply because he doesn’t get his way, I put him in his bedroom to cool off a bit. I don’t yell at him or punish him, I simply walk him up to his room (or drag him…whatever you want to call it…) and explain that when he stops crying, then he can back downstairs.

At first, I felt really bad sending him away like that, but I’m learning that it really is a better option for Bean than a time out. For one thing, I can send him to his room and he can still calm down and play (which is how it usually goes) and for another thing, I can save the time outs for defiant behavior – which is not allowed at our house.

But no matter what the game plan is or how we choose to handle Bean’s two-year-old outbursts, I still feel like I’m doing something wrong. That he wouldn’t be so emotional if I was a better mom.

Maybe better mom’s don’t watch their two-year-olds pitch temper tantrums while thinking to themselves, “That kid needs a Midol…”

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49 Thoughts to “Two Be Do Be Doooo”

  1. Beth

    My almost 3 year old does that too. I can now tell her “Gracie, you need to go to your room until you’re done throwing your tantrum” very matter-of-factly. She stomps upstairs, yells a bit, then comes down and quietly tells me “Mama, my trantrum is all done now.” Then she is able to talk clearly. There’s nothing wrong with your approach!

  2. You’re normal. He’s normal. It’s awful. Little Man (also two) is currently up for rent because i can’t take any more whining/tantrum/limit testing. I’ll take him back when he’s done with that!

  3. Totally and completely NORMAL! You are doing nothing wrong. I know it’s hard anytime that your child seems unhappy, no matter what the reason. But, it is a two year old’s job to throw tantrums. It’s all part of their emotional development and it WILL pass. But, when it does you’ll be stuck with a whole new set of problems, right? πŸ™‚

  4. I think putting him in his room is the very best audience. A lot of times they just want an audience so when you remove the viewers, the tantrum stops. And yes, this is all normal but remember my favorite mantra about toddlerhood: “The only people who call them the “terrible twos” are the people who haven’t had a three year old yet.” πŸ˜‰

  5. I’m laughing while dreading when we get to that stage. Sullivan is really growing into his personality and it is strong and loud. Sure can’t wait until he hits the two year mark. Is there a font for sarcasm? There should be.

  6. Sounds like my 2 year old. He’s so passionate. I send him to his room to cool down as well, I can’t fight with him about a time out and really he’s not in trouble he just needs to cool down, he can do that with his toys. I was at a museum today and I had the only screeching toddler. Really?! I was so surprised. I thought everyone’s toddler threw themselves dramatically in the middle of the walkway blocking all traffic while I try to maneuver my bus of a double stroller out of the way with a crying hungry infant inside it, then drag a limp screaming toddler to the side of the walkway and deal with his issue…the string on his kite came untied. Wow, really. Kite fixed, move on…OH NO, his cracker broke, screaming again, new cracker given to kid. My kid exhausts me and he’s not a bad kid at all.

  7. I could have written the very same post today! My sweet little 2 1/2 year old has taken the “my 1 1/2 year old sister cries to get things so I will too” approach today, and it has been EXHAUSTING!!!

    Thanks for writing this. I’m glad to know that there are others going through the same thing πŸ™‚

  8. Katie

    I agree with everyone else – you’re totally normal. If you’re a bad mom and doing something wrong, then so am I. lol My little boy (who is going on four) acts like that too. Although he’s gotten better about communicating what he’s unhappy about since he’s learned more words, he still pitches fits and whines. It’s just part of being a child, I think – feeling like the world revolves around you and yet not getting what you want sometimes. He might still be transitioning to all the new stuff in his life too. From the posts you’ve made, it sounds like you’re doing a great job with how you (and Chris) handle him and how much love and attention you give him. So try not to worry about it. Just hang in there.

  9. Haha, yeah I think it is a part of being 2. You describe it so well. The smallest things are the biggest deal. My son will want something small and go straight from happy to screaming when I haven’t even said no… if he had just asked I would have given it to him right away. Have you read the Happiest Toddler on the Block? I’m not totally sure it works but it does give you some new ideas to deal with and avoid tantrums.

  10. Yup. That’s two for you. But… here’s the thing. Three is HARDER! I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. And for you, it will be double hard because then you’ll have a 2yo AND a 3yo. Good times! (I feel your pain on this, so I’m not just sitting here snickering.) My kids are currently 7.5, 6.5, 4.5, 3 and 10 mos. It’s very very tiring, and not to scare you, but it’s tiring for a while. When they get to 4 or 5, they start to argue with you. If I find a cure for that, I’ll let you know. Just prepare yourself for the long haul, and know what there is sanity at the end of it, or so I’ve been told. πŸ™‚

  11. Rhea

    I don’t have kids, so I don’t know how much my input will REALLY matter…
    But, I have been a nanny since I was almost 16. (I’m almost 22.) and a babysitter since I was 10. (Looking back, I have no idea why people thought I was old enough to sit with kids for hours at a time.) And I have seen and worked for parents I thought were Godsends, and parents I wanted to fire from BEING parents, and everything inbetween.

    But I’ve never ever had a 2 year old that didn’t throw fits and have emotional outbursts at tiny things, or even just randomly. Emotions are so big and weird and (some) new at that age, even if they could speak perfectly,they probably couldn’t understand half the emotions they feel to explain them at all.
    And, I think this is the age they start to realize that Mommy has emotions, Daddy has emotions, Gracey girl has emotions. And every toddler will bust their butt to try and change that so they are #1.

    I’ve read all your posts (I’m on my 3rd round reading through your blog. It’s like a very good book to me, not something creepy. Promise πŸ™‚ ) and not a SINGLE time did I ever wonder about your parenting, except to wonder how you figured this or that out, or if you read X in some book, and to steal stuff for the future parenting of my own kids. πŸ™‚

  12. Andrea

    I have a two year old boy as well, and I love reading your blog! Thank you for all of your honest posts. One book that has really helped my husband and I is Playful Parenting. The book is kind of a challenge, it is hard to follow all of the time, but when you can take the outbursts and make them into happy, calm moments, it is an emotional rush:) I think the techniques would fit well with your parenting style!

  13. Carlene

    I have to agree with all of the above. I’ve been a nanny for 10 years, I’ve seen some great parenting and some terrible parenting. But the technique that seems to work best is the one we use at the daycare I’m working at, which is very similar to yours. When a toddler pitches a fit over something small, or gets very emotional, we simply talk to them. “Lindsey, so seem so sad! Are you sad because Bella has the truck you want? Should we ask her for it?” or “Miles! Are you mad? You don’t have to be mad because your milk is spilled! We can get you some more. Walk with me to the kitchen. Lets fix it together.” or “Do you want some help? I want to help you. What can we do to make you feel better.”

    It really helps the kids stop and think about what they’re doing and what they need. You’re doing such a great job with those kids, Katie, don’t doubt yourself. Think of it this way: chances are by the time Bean starts college, he PROBABLY won’t be throwing fits over the water vs. milk decision.

  14. I think you are such a great mom! I know it can’t be easy and even though I am not a mom so I have no scale on which to measure mom-success, I think you are doing an awesome job! Bean and Gracie girl are two lucky ducks!

  15. I love that you called him Michael in this post. It’s like you were really using your “mommy” voice. My Peanut is about to turn one, and I think the tantrums are starting to set in. Oh, dear.

  16. Lauren

    Look, you’re a teacher, correct?

    Please learn how to use an apostrophe. You are constantly using them incorrectly.

    ‘Maybe better mom’s don’t watch their two-year-olds pitch temper tantrums while thinking to themselves, β€œThat kid needs a Midol…” ‘

  17. Jamie

    Katie, I am constantly admiring your parenting skills. I keep telling myself to keep a little notebook of tips and tricks for when i have kids, but I will more likely just have to start your blog from the beginning when i get pregnant. On another note….Who pissed in Lauren’s cornflakes???? Sheesh…

  18. Jennifer

    HAHA…”who pissed in Lauren’s cornflakes??” Its hard to have correct grammer when you have a 2 year old…sometimes I’m surprised that I can make complete sentances with real words…she must not have a 2 year old.

    On another note, we’ve been ignoring our sons tantrums and I think its time to send him to his room like what yall are doing. We do try to talk camly to him when he’s upset, but sometimes that just doesn’t work for us.

  19. Nikki

    Katie, I’m majorly impressed with all that you do. Thanks for discussing your parenting techniques with us. I can’t wait to scroll back through and read all of your great advice when I’m expecting a small one. The grammar police needs to calm down a bit. I can see you frantically trying to get some posts in with what little personal time you have, so of course it’s not going to be perfect. I like it better that way!

  20. Amy

    I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Love and Logic parenting before, but you’re already doing it. Removing him from the situation calmly and telling him he can come out when he’s finished crying is exactly what you’re supposed to do according to this method. Right on, Katie. As a mother of a 9yo girl and a 5yo boy, I can tell you that you will make it! And I think you are so far ahead of the game with your parenting skills, you have nothing to worry about. Cheers!

  21. Amanda E.

    We are in both phases right now. I still just ignore my one year old when he is pitching a fit, but I do exactly what you do with Bean with my three year old. I just tell her that I can’t understand her when she is crying and that when she gets done, she can come find me and I will try to help her. I almost always feel completely at sea about raising my kids, but I guess we just do the best we can. With God’s help maybe they will turn out decent!

  22. I am not a parent, but it sounds to me like you are doing everything right. I am saving all your posts for when I do have kids…’cause Lord knows I am going to need some guidance.

  23. My boy is 15 months. You all are making me really excited for the next 2 years of my life.

  24. kim

    My girls are 11 and 9. I still have my moments of thinking I must be a terrible mother, where have I gone wrong. However, I have learned, that for the most part it’s not me. Having two kids gives me the perspective to know that I have only a minimal amount of influence. Yes, I set the rules, consequences and rewards, what they do with that is completely up to them. My older daughter often decides the bad behavior is worth the punishment, it baffles me. My younger daughter thinks acting badly is a fate worse than death. Sometimes I wonder if they are even related. You do the best you can in each moment. Move on and make course corrections as needed. Good luck. There are ups and downs with every phase. They are still loveable even when they’re rotten.

  25. We do the same thing. When my son’s having a fit, I tell him to go in his room to calm down. He does and it usually only takes a few minutes and he comes out and is back together again.

  26. Jessica

    Lauren, pleeeease leave this site and don`t come back πŸ™‚ The rest of us appreciate you Katie! I was just thinking today how much I love your posts, because of how real you are- and its amazing how LONG and full of great stuff your posts are considering how busy you are- I hope that some day you get so many readers that you will be as rich as Pioneer Woman from your blog πŸ˜€

  27. Jocelyne

    Katie, The only thing I found was that most tantrums wound themselves down with isolation. There were a very few where my guy would just wind himself up until he threw up or hit his head hard enough to bleed. Those times, just a couple of minutes of tight snuggles and soothing words were enough. Trying to find that sense of which was which occupied most of Two and much of Three. Good luck.

  28. I can offer no advice because I’ve never had a 2 year old in my constant care. I think, from what I read on this site, that you’re an amazing mom. I think you do a whole lot “right” with Bean, and with Gracie for that matter. My husband and I are currently taking a “Love and Logic” class…it’s amazing. The book is written by Jim Fay and Charles Cline…I think that’s their names. Anyways, they’re amazing, the book is amazing, and the parents that I’ve seen use it are amazing. The other book that I love, that is based out of Love and Logic, is called Loving Our Kids on Purpose, by Danny Silk. If you can get your hands on one of those books…I highly recommend it! Good luck!

  29. Peggy

    You are not a failure as a mother. Being 2 is hard. Getting them to calm down and explain why they are acting out is the thing to do. KEep up the good work!

  30. Oh, yes they do, my dear. You are doing a great job. Don’t be afraid to seize your power, you are the MOM! A GREAT one! Great mom’s always feel like failures 85% of the time, as far as I know. Stay strong.

  31. Being the mom of a 10 month old is plenty hard for me. Too many days I wonder if I am doing this right. If I am teaching him enough, playing enough, is he sleeping too much? And so on. It’s tough being the mommy!

  32. Lauren

    People, it’s not about me being grumpy. Katie is a TEACHER as well as someone who publishes her written work for a living. She should know how to use an apostrophe correctly.

  33. Sheesh

    I love when people criticize other people’s grammar, punctuation, and spelling, while making pretty much the same mistakes.

    Lay off. Typos happen. That’s why people proofread before they turn in essays. She shouldn’t have to proofread her blog for one friggin mistake.

  34. Cindy

    I have a two, almost 3 year old, little girl and this is exactly what I do but I don’t feel like I’m a bad mom anymore. I have 3 older kids and have learned that mommy guilt gets you no where. Just keep telling yourself that you are a great mom and one day you will believe it too!

  35. Michelle (mommy to Henry -2- and Daisy -7m- )

    YESS!!!! Finally, a post about MY two year old- ha! πŸ™‚ Henry does the same thing. I seriously consider locking myself in a room until I pull it together (why should he get all the downtime)- ha! Just kidding, just kidding.

    Side note: Lauren, really? There is a nice way to say things and you didn’t do it right. This is a very real/nice/happy blog and a down to earth group of people from what I’ve seen in the 2.5 years I’ve been reading. Please go find another blog to criticize if that’s your shtick. We are mostly busy mommies who do not have time for negative energy. We love our Katie! She could spell it all backwards and in Chinese and I would still get something out of it. πŸ˜‰

  36. HeatherM

    I agree with the others, what you are going through is totally normal, and you seem to be doing well. I think you are right not to try to reason with Bean, because there is no reasoning with someone in the middle of an emotional fit (whether they are 2 yrs old or 92).
    My MIL has a behavior modification motto she calls “catch them being good.”. Basically it is the opposite of the “withhold attention for acting out behavior” strategy. You intentionally take time to play with them when they ARE being good. It seems to work well w/ my niece & nephew.

  37. Hilary

    Personally, I think three is MUCH easier than two even though everyone I know has told me the opposite. I found that my daughter at three doesn’t throw tantrums or get as easily frustrated as she did a year ago so there is (possible) light at the end of the tunnel. Also, I though it was funny that you said, “But this just seems to exasperate the problem.” I think you meant “exacerbate” as in “to make worse,” but two year olds are certainly exasperating! Freudian slip, eh?

  38. Welcome to the club. My son is almost four, and these fits are much fewer and farther between, but we still have those moments. And quite frankly, I do the same thing. To his room he goes. I punish for outright disobedience, but I have found that sending him to his room works best for fits of temper. And no your not a failure. You would only be a failure if you didn’t care. And you do. You’re a great mom.

  39. Melissa W.

    Thank you Katie for this post!! I have been feeling the same way lately about my almost 3 yr. old- as a matter of fact I tried to give him away 2x today while we were out…LOL! I know it’s not us- it’s them and this phase!!! Keep ur head up!! U r doing a great job!!

  40. I don’t have kids of my own but from working in a daycare and being in the elementary classroom now I think this is the best way to handle it. I babysat this summer and when she (3) would have a temper tantrum I would say go sit over there on the other side of the room, I would turn the tv to what I wanted to have on rather than what she wanted and I would say, “Now when you’re done you came come back over here and we can play.” 9 times out of 10 within a minute or two she would walk over and say, “I’m done.” Which was adorable. Sometimes they just need to get it out =)

  41. marci

    dear sweet katie, my daughter is 22 years old and i have felt and continue to feel like i have been wrong 90% of the time. rest assured you are not wrong and you are a normal, and very loving mother!

  42. Yikes! I am scared of two. But you seem to be doing a lot of things right, and that’s why I save so many of your posts. Your methods just seem to make sense to me! Thank you πŸ™‚

  43. Oh, I so don’t look forward to that! But I think I’ll be keeping your tactics in mind when we do have to face this πŸ™‚

  44. Ann G-B

    Ah yes the two year old tantrums…….. And dinner time is the worst! Last night I told him what was for dinner and a few minutes later I found him crying in his bed – “I no want chicken and broccoli”! Sometimes I try and redirect him – he got to have corn instead. But sometimes I just have to stop what I am doing and hold him until he calms down. He is tired and hungry and CRANKY!

  45. You know, it’s hard to tell when you’re reading someone’s blog about what is really going on or how they feel on a daily basis. I was always in such awe of the fact that you had kids young and just went along with it. Like it was no big – raising this human being. Meanwhile, I am terrified about 90% of the time that I’m going to do something so wrong that my kid is going to spend all her tuition for college on a shrink instead.

    And with that in mind, I just want to tell you that you’re doing an awesome job. You seem to figure out exactly what YOUR kid needs and do it right…and most importantly…consistently. So yeah, GO YOU!

  46. I hear you! Brayden is at the epitome of being 2, and I always say- wow, it’s rough being two. It’s hard to be consistent because Brayden’s needs change, and with 2 weeks to go until baby girl arrives, I am afraid I am letting him get away with too much. If he doesn’t listen the second or third time after warnings, I make him leave the room. That generally helps…but we’ll see. Hang in there!

  47. Amy L Butler

    Girl, I feel ya 100% on all levels. I have a 22 month old and a 7 year old. Both girls so we are veeeeerrrrryyyyy dramatic! It’s a constant battle of figuring out what each of them needs, making sure you’re being fair, and tweaking things in between to make it all work. We will survive this stage and our reward will be a whole new stage to take head on. I can’t wait! Thanks for another awesome post!!

  48. Carolyn

    Thanks for this post, I really needed it this morning! My two year old boy was just doing this same thing. I know it must be hard to be two and all, but the drama, oh my. I also like the cool down method. Or distractions. My almost 4 year old girl is now dealing better with life, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!

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