What to Expect With the Terrible Twos

Reason for meltdown: Mommy took the TV remote away (after the fifth warning to not slam it on the ground.)

Let’s be clear about one thing: we’ve only gotten a glimpse of what the terrible twos have in store for us. Liam started acting out around the 18 month mark and it caught us a little off guard at first… where was all this attitude coming from? How could someone so cute and small give us such a pounding migraine? If, like us, you’ve started noticing changes in your little one’s behavior, you’ll relate to this post. Silver lining? Our babies are growing up, developing personalities of their own. One thing is for sure: they sure know what they want!

Here’s what we’ve experienced so far with Liam:

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I always admire families who take their kids to the restaurant. I watch in amazement as their little ones sit quietly at the table, never once trying to yank all the cutlery off the table or reaching for the wine glasses. I mean… how? Liam, being the very energetic kid that he is, is always the center of attention when we dare take him to lunch or dinner. I constantly need to keep an eye on him, and the experience is, well, pretty darn stressful. Lately, Liam has been acting out at the supermarket if he can’t get, say, a balloon or a toy he sees in an aisle. He’s been louder than usual when he doesn’t get his way, and definitely much more assertive. And yes, we’ve been getting a lot of side eye from other shoppers. Tip? We usually ignore the tantrums (to some extent) or distract him – he eventually gives up on his own. If we give him the attention he craves, he only behaves more badly.

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When Liam isn’t in the mood to do something, there is no way around it. We’ve noticed this at Great Play, the baby gym we go to. If he has decided he wants to skip an activity, there is literally nothing we can do. At home, he will sometimes whine for hours… for no good reason. Fun times. 


This is definitely new with Liam – he seems to have such a short fuse and refuses to wait for anything: waiting his turn at Great Play, for his food to cook… anything. I usually have to get down to his level and explain why we’re forced to wait – not sure if he understands, but it at least distracts him a little bit.

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There’s no rational reasoning with a toddler – if they’ve decided they’re unhappy about something, well, nothing you do will most likely change that. For younger toddlers, they understand most of what we tell them but obviously can’t reason like an older child. The best way to navigate these changes in our toddlers’ temperament is to distract them from the issue that’s bugging them.


Mischievous is Liam’s middle name! He constantly pushes the boundaries with us, whether it’s pulling the dog’s tail, doing what we tell him not to do, not to touch,  or where not to go. This is part of learning boundaries and testing how serious we are about things. We try to be firm, and if he doesn’t listen, remove him from the situation. Moving to another room or activity always helps.


Liam loves to be around people. He loves being the center of attention, making people laugh, playing games…  This was always a facet of his personality, but I’ve definitely seen him become even more comfortable around others, no matter how familiar they are to him. If a stranger gives him a smile or plays along with him, they become instant buddies! He yearns for a connection with others, and loves to watch older kids play.

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I’ve noticed Liam copying everything we do lately, whether it’s blowing our noses, reprimanding the dogs, or even singing a tune. He’s been mimicking the way we talk and the words we say, which is a fascinating change to witness. Our pediatrician made it clear that the biggest change we would see in the next few months would be language development and that is definitely true for Liam. He seems to be all about babbling away these days.

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Liam is learning to be his own person, without Mom and Dad. At Great Play, he goes off on his own to socialize with other kids and their parents. He doesn’t even glance in our direction! He seems to always want to discover new things and go on a new adventure, and most of the time, he wants to be given free rein and as much independence as possible. Bittersweet for us, but so amazing to watch him grow up.


There is nothing Liam loves more than to be given a little job: put toys away with Mommy, participate in a house chore, go get something from the living room… it’s so fun to see him understanding our simple commands and how pleased he is when he does something well.

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As you can see, there are a lot of major changes that occur after the first birthday. Most of them take some getting used to (and we, parents, have to learn how to adjust!) but others are simply incredible to watch firsthand. Our babies aren’t babies anymore and they’re showing us in their own little way. Yes, the twos can be terrible… but if you try to overlook the little annoyances and see the bigger picture, our little ones are starting to discover who they are and what they like and don’t like. There’s so much to be proud of! Our little ones are becoming so smart, curious, and above all, these changes mean they’re are as healthy as can be. And that’s worth cheering for 🙂


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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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