Menu

Book review: 'Making the 'Terrible' Twos Terrific!'

We read the book so you don't have to.

Book review: 'Making the 'Terrible' Twos Terrific!'

If you ever want to strike fear into even the bravest parent's heart, bring up the "terrible twos." Depending on who you ask (or, let's be real, the day of the week), parents are often quick to describe "two" as the best or the worst year. While it comes with bursts of personality, hilarious new language and funny quirks, two can also be rampant with fiery tantrums, unpredictable fits, and loads of stubborness and sass.


But while many parents dread the onslaught of two, family psychologist John Rosemund offers a new perspective: Two can be terrific. While we highly recommend giving his book Making the "Terrible" Twos Terrific! a full read, here's a quick synopsis. You know, in case you're busy dealing with a tantrum today.

FEATURED VIDEO

The premise

According to Rosemund, the year between a child's first and second birthday is one of the primary "humps" of parenting. (Another one happens when your child becomes a teenager, but we'll leave that for another book review.) It's during this time that most parents transition from being primarily caretakers, responding to and often acquiescing to every one of their child's needs, to actually parenting, which often means saying "no."

For the child, this is problematic. Whereas previously they felt they ruled the world (and particularly their mamas), they are now presented with a new dynamic: Those previously servantile parents are actually the ones in charge—and their marriage is actually the central relationship in the family. Naturally, your toddler has a few concerns.

Dr. Rosemund's tips revolve around taking a rational, measured approach to this understanding and educates parents how to hold their ground in a productive way that gets everyone over the "hump" and successfully into future parenting.

Each chapter also ends with real parent questions and letters Rosemund has received, which can be incredibly comforting if you feel like you have the world's hardest baby.

Encouraging development

One of my favorite things about Rosemund's book is that all of his tips stem from an understanding of how the 2-year-old brain works (without getting hung up on specific milestones, which will be different for every child).

For example, as your 2-year-old begins to develop a sense of "me," parents are encouraged to foster that sense of independence while also teaching their little one that independence still comes with boundaries.

My favorite tip was the idea to create a childproofed home to encourage exploration. Once cabinets with dangerous materials are locked up, and easy-to-break items are put out of reach, most children can freely roam their space—without mom feeling like she has to hover over every activity or constantly tell her child "no, don't touch that!"

He also encourages a lot of outdoor play, reading, limiting screen time and toys (especially anything overly electronic or that can only serve one purpose), and having regular conversations with your child.

Creative discipline

For me, finding the right balance of discipline for my 2-year-old was one of the trickiest parts of navigating this parenting transition. I appreciated Rosemund's balanced approach, which centered on several basic principles.

First, parents should stay emotionally level, rather than meeting their child on whatever heightened emotional plane they are on during a tantrum.

Second, discipline is about establishing limits and teaching your child to tolerate frustration.

Third, you are reinforcing to the child that you are in control of his world, "and are thus capable of providing for and protecting him under any and all circumstances." Rosemund recommends concrete, concise words to explain and correct (for example, "get off the table" vs. a drawn-out explanation of what will happen if he doesn't).

When a child misbehaves, Rosemund shies away from punishment, which is often inconsistent and leads to power struggles. Instead, he recommends that parents be emotionally proactive (expect occasional disobedience, so it doesn't rattle you when it happens), consistent responses, and waiting for "strategic opportunities." For example, waiting until your child wants something for herself to remind her that first, she must do what you asked.

Potty training + bed times

Since most parents are often embarking on what Rosemund calls the "adventures of the great white water chair," there's also a chapter on potty training in his book. The tips are similar to the rest of his parenting advice, advising parents to emotionally prepare beforehand, remain calm and confident throughout the process, and keep expectations realistic (the number one way to keep pressure off you and your toddler).

Bedtime often proves to be another source of drama for parents of toddlers. Rosemund tackles everything from going to bed to staying there, focusing on how the parents' response has the biggest impact on a child's success. Namely, if you stay calm, odds are your child will get what she's supposed to do a lot quicker.

I especially love his "five-minute method" for children who start to resist bedtime. Parents are advised to stick to the same bedtime routine every night, begin winding down for bed 30 minutes prior to bedtime, and then, after completing the bedtime ritual, promptly leave the room.

If the child screams, the parent should wait five minutes, repeat the quick bedtime tuck-in (no more than a minute long), and then leave. They should repeat the five-minute rituals as long as needed—without adding in any extra fanfare that would encourage the child to keep it up. Typically the five minutes extend to ten, and then longer as the child tires of the same response over and over again. I've tried it, and it worked like a dream (no pun intended).

Aggressive behavior

From biting to hitting to just plain not wanting to share, toddlers have their share of aggressive moments. Fortunately, Rosemund has solutions for that too. Similar to his other advice, he continues to impress upon parents the importance of remaining calm and level-headed, providing simple, consistent rules to combat aggressive behavior and teach children to coexist with other even when not getting their way.

You might also like:

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Mothers wanted the president to condemn white supremacy—he didn't

What you need to know about the first presidential debate and the 'Proud Boys'.

Screenshot/CNN

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

For many American families, the impacts of systemic racism are a daily reality. This summer saw mothers and children go out and join Black Lives Matter protests in an effort to make the United States a safer place for Black children.

FEATURED VIDEO

Individuals across the country stood up and condemned white supremacy in 2020 and wanted the sitting President of the United States to do that Tuesday night, during the first presidential debate.

But he didn't.

When Chris Wallace of Fox News, the debate moderator, asked President Trump to condemn white supremacy, to ask militia groups to stand down and not escalate violence in cities like Kenosha and Portland, the president stated he was willing to...but when Wallace said "Then do it, sir," the president's answer was far from a clear condemnation.

First, Trump asked for a specific group to condemn, rather than simply condemning white supremacy as a whole. When the others on stage offered "white supremacy" and "Proud Boys" as the name to condemn, the President picked Proud Boys. But a condemnation didn't come.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about Antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."

This followed a previous exchange in which Wallace asked President Trump why he ended a racial sensitivity training program. Trump responded that the training was racist and was teaching people to "hate our country."

Keep reading Show less
News