There is no doubt that children are a joy and a delight, but as the dreaded "terrible twos" approach it can be difficult to remember that basic fact. Nothing provides more of a parenting challenge than a toddler on the rampage, and it can at times be difficult to tell the difference between normal toddler behavior and an out of control two year old child.
As the terrible twos arrive, it is important to keep in mind that kids learn very quickly. Even when they appear not to be doing much of anything at all those youngsters may well be watching you, gauging your reactions and learning from them. Kids at a young age learn very quickly how to manipulate the adults in their world in order to get what they want, and unfortunately this manifestation is often negative, like the temper tantrum in the middle of grocery store, or the kicking and screaming session at the local park when it's time to go home.
Learning how to deal with these youthful outbursts is an important part of being a mom or a dad, and it is important to provide a reasoned and consistent reaction to such behaviors, no matter how difficult it may be. In order to get through those difficult times, try setting some ground rules and be sure to enforce them lovingly but consistently. Children, even at very young ages, are able to recognize both consistency and inconsistency on the part of the adults in their lives, and they look for consistency and reassurance in order to know that they are safe and protected.
Fortunately for harried parents, there are some very good tools at their disposal for dealing with toddlers and their tantrums. Even at two years old, children understand, and react to, the concept of taking a "time out". Time outs are a very good discipline tool, but it is important to keep the time spent in time out appropriate to the age of the child. The general rule of thumb is one minute of time out for each year of life, so that "terrible" two year old can be given a two minute time out to think about his or her behavior.
No one ever said that parenting was a stress free job, but it is certainly the most rewarding one any person can enjoy. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about the terrible twos is that they are temporary. The negative memories of this special time in the life of your son or daughter will fade, and hopefully be replaced by more pleasant and lasting ones. For more parenting resource and ideas, check out the 'Baby, Kids & Moms' section on this site.