3 Truths About the Twos: Why They Aren’t So Terrible

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

The Truth About the Twos: Why They Aren't So Terrible
We’ve all heard about the dreaded Terrible Twos. That has been a familiar phrase to me throughout my entire life as I remember it, and I’ve wondered exactly how my children and I would fare throughout this time. My son is now two and a half, and I will not even begin to pretend that we have been immune to the big emotions and amazing displays that come along with having a two year old in the family. Still, I’ve noticed that my most consistent thought as we make our way through this year is that the two’s are not only not as bad as people have made them out to be; they are actually a really wonderful time of life.

No, my son is not an angel, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when I’m old and gray, I will still be cherishing some pretty awesome memories of Big Brother at this time, and I have no doubt that I will still be laughing at many of our experiences from this year.

If you have yet to experience the two’s, or if you’re wading your way through its midst as we are, here’s what I would like to share about it:

1. Big emotions cover all emotions; that includes the negative AND the positive ones.

There will be yelling. There will be screaming. And then there will be the oh so effusive love! We’ve all witnessed a two year old tantrum at some point or another. Now picture all of the same energy and emotion and intensity being funneled into your child’s expression of love for you – or the cat – or her sibling – or a pleasant day. I don’t believe there could ever be a warmth or depth of affection that could rival that of a two year old. Children at this age experience everything intensively, and in turn, you will intensively feel their love on a whole new level.

2. For the first and maybe only time in your child’s life, you will have a beautifully clear window right into her heart and soul.

Two is the time in a child’s life when they begin to communicate very effectively. You’ve spent a couple of years attending to your little one’s every need. Maybe you’ve lost sleep, gained weight, needed too many glasses of wine, or forgotten what it feels like to stay up past 10 pm – all in the name of helping this child grow and develop. At two, you finally have the opportunity to hear the innermost thoughts of this somewhat mysterious being that you have poured your love and life into. Two year olds have no filter. I’ll say it again and use caps because I really feel the need to make this point. Two year olds have NO filter. This means that after two years and some odd months of doing the hardest thing you’ll ever love, you are rewarded by hearing practically every single thing that your child is thinking. You will hear the funniest things that you may ever hear in your entire life from the mouth of your two year old. You will hear the most starkly transparent utterances of love and hate and want and need. Your child will have a transparency that we will probably all one day look back upon and wish for as our children develop needs for privacy and space for their innermost thoughts. Appreciate this time. There may be moments where you don’t want to hear it all, but remember how fleeting this time is. The fully open window into your child’s heart and soul will not last for long.

3. You will learn to let go in a whole new way.

When you spend time with two year olds, you learn the equivalent of what you had hoped to gain through thousands of yoga classes or meditation sessions or drunken nights. You learn to let go. Two year olds teach you that you simply cannot and should not bother to exert control on the world around you. You have to relax, resist following your strongest impulses, and learn to roll with the punches in a way you may never have before. Developmentally, two year olds are learning that they can control elements of their world, and they need to test these boundaries in order to become functional human beings. You will never ever win an argument with a two year old, so there is no point in trying. Instead you learn to laugh, listen, and see the glass half full even in the hairiest of circumstances. Your little guru will have you hugging your poop covered child tightly, smiling in the midst of a torn apart house, and yielding to demands of a passionate heart in no time.

Stay strong, mamas and dadas and caregivers! The twos will be over in the blink of an eye, so cherish your little ones and all of their intensity. This year offers you an adventure that you don’t even have to leave home to experience.

This post is linked up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up and the Seasonal Celebration Linky.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 clancy harrison February 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

I love this post! The twos are not bad at all! You are right about seeing right into their souls. My son is turning two in a couple days and my daughter just turned four. They are all so different but year three was the hardest with my daughter. So far, my son is EASY!


2 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Thank you, Clancy! I’m glad you are enjoying the twos also. Happy Almost Birthday to your son!


3 Jaime February 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

I’ve been pretty frustrated with my 22 month old DD lately – this post was an amazing wakeup call! Thank you so much for sharing this!
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4 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm

You’re welcome, Jaime!


5 Jane @ Mama Pea Pod February 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Wonderful post and so true – 2 is my absolute favourite age for exactly these reasons! More parents need to hear this!
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6 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 4, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Thanks so much, Jane! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the twos too!


7 Becky February 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Great post and so true! It’s a great time to talk with them, see them get excited and help them to navigate their feelings.
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8 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Thanks, Becky! It definitely is!


9 Nicole McKinney February 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm

While reading this I found myself getting so choked up that I literally had a moment where I couldn’t speak or even take breath. My last baby boy just turned 2 yesterday. Our family has been totally immersed in all the glory of his ’2ness’ for a few weeks now and we are more and more in love with our boy and his explosions of everything he experiences and feels every day. Every day is a wondrous gift!


10 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Aww… I’m so glad you are celebrating your little guy’s ’2ness’ :-) It really is a gift!


11 Laura Broach February 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

The twos are so much fun, aren’t they?! I’ve been through it twice and loved every minute of it…well almost every minute!
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12 Krystyna @ Spring Mountain February 5, 2013 at 9:18 am

I love the idea of celebrating what others often cringe at in fear! :) Great post & def passing along to some friends with young ones!
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13 Michelle February 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Two’s aren’t so bad. I think you just need to keep their little minds in your perspective. Everything is so new…fresh…and it can be overwhelming! Three’s gets a bit tougher! But it’s a learning curve too…now that I have an almost 5, I often rue the day that I wanted him to be more independent. I’m trying to find ways (already) to sneak into K next year with him!
I LOVE the mama journey and enjoy reading about how you love it too!


14 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 6, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Exactly! Thanks, Michelle!


15 Shannon @ GrowingSlower February 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I love your perspective!
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16 Ariadne - Positive Parenting Connection February 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I love the two’s and already feeling a bit nostalgic as my youngest is so close to being three – what an amazing stage that year really is, I loved it with each of my children as different as they each were at age 2! What a lovely post this is with such wonderful thoughts – sharing it :)
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17 Janine February 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I think that the ‘terrible twos’ is something made up by parents who can’t stand giving up control. All of the downsides are definitely worth it for the leaps in communication!
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18 Jason@Calligraphy Art March 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm

IMO, kids at any age are only as “terrible” as their parents let them be. In Remember the Titans one memorable line was “attitude reflects leadership.” This applies to parenthood too. Little kids are lots of fun and can brighten your day. I tried to debate my three year old to teach him something yesterday but couldn’t win, his logic was so strange. I didn’t care. I don’t think this is the same as giving up control to one’s kids. Parents should be charge, but they should also loosen up sometimes and just have fun.


19 Diane Cooper April 10, 2013 at 12:36 am

As a grandmother who has experienced my two year old, and now my two year old grandchild, I can tell you, you are exactly right. I am making sure to enjoy every moment , because they are over in a blink of an eye, and the older they get the less of themselves they share with you so openly and uninhibited.


20 natalie nichols April 10, 2013 at 12:48 am

Great post! My son has his moments but it is so rewarding at the same time.


21 Maryann D. May 19, 2013 at 7:53 am

I agree that the terrible two’s are not so terrible. I enjoyed my children at this age and saw a little person emerging. They start to understand more and express their opinions. Children are just adorable at this age. I actually miss it.


22 Jessica Smock May 24, 2013 at 9:55 am

I loved this! My son turned two last month, and for us, it’s literally the absolute best of times and the worst of times. He’s becoming such his own little person: so funny, joyous, and spirited. But the defiance and tantrums can be so soul-crushing as a parent. His wailing and tantrums are often irrational and come out of nowhere. But it’s all worth it because he’s such a cute, little, funny guy.
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23 Rachel August 21, 2013 at 6:25 am

Love this post, so true! My son is just turned three now and still has us roaring with laughter with his strange utterings and adorable perspective on the world. Long may it last, may we always think THIS time we are in now is the best. Love your style Charise!


24 mo February 3, 2014 at 3:19 am

thanks so much for this. i dislike the phrase terrible two’s and feel it unfair when people roll it out when my son expresses himself. it just doesnt reflect all the giggles, moments of magic and wonderous discoveries we’re having every day! most of the time he is great company and i feel that the intensity of the development that happens at this age is bound to make it an intense time for all the family. yet i hadnt considered that the constant chatter is a time-limitted window to all their feelings, so thanks for your gift of this perspective.x


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