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Why Is It Called the Terrible Twos?

Can We All Agree to Stop Calling 2-Year-Olds Terrible?

No other age group gets as consistently maligned as 2-year-olds. Yes, millennials get their fair share of critical comments, and there are an innumerable amount of tasteless jokes about "old people." Despite these instances, 2-year-olds are the only age group where the reaction to it is met with an immediate, "That sucks," and it needs to stop.

Imagine if it were not just socially acceptable but common practice to say "angry 81-year-olds" or "b*tchy 26-year-olds." I realize this would never happen, and not just because those phrases don't roll off the tongue the way "terrible twos" does. We understand that momentary instances of anger or defiance don't define an entire age bracket. Why don't we extend the same understanding to a group of people that needs it the most?

Before my son turned 2, I spent much of his first year having to hear people warn about how bad 2-year-olds were. "Just wait," they'd say.

"Just wait," they'd say. And I waited, anticipating the worst in my son.
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And I waited, anticipating the worst in my son. True to predictions, there were moments where he had become angry and easily frustrated. Instead of approaching any potential outbursts with care and understanding, I'd brush them off as symptomatic of his supposed terribleness. Essentially, I wasn't fully listening to and respecting this tiny creature in the way that I had been in the past, all because of a stupid phrase.

I'll admit that he's been more challenging in some regards than he had been in the past. When he gets an idea in his head, it can lead to some tears. This morning I had to console him because I wouldn't let him take his four-foot plastic dinosaur on the train during rush hour. You're welcome, commuters of Chicago.

However, for all the difficult moments and heartbreaking tears, him being 2 is so much better than when he was an infant.

Two-year-olds suddenly have a real personality with tastes and preferences. They're growing significantly and eager to try new things and to push themselves. Those little tykes are difficult at times because of how exciting this time in their life is.

Those little tykes are difficult at times because of how exciting this time in their life is.

During the course of their year, a 2-year-old's language will explode, metaphorically of course. They will learn how to express themselves and learn that language has power. However, as with any new skill, it takes time to get it right.

Do you remember the last time you learned a new skill, whether it was a language, a difficult DIY project, or a musical instrument? Chances are, unless you're incredibly perfect, it was probably frustrating at times. If you're like me when I'm learning something new, you may or may not have cursed and screamed.

Learning anything new is hard. For a toddler, their whole life is a new skill. Just being alive and exploring is hard work. Let's cut them some slack and stop assuming the worst. Maybe if we change our attitude as adults, they'll be better as toddlers.

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