The Two’s…

Prior to having children I remember witnessing a child’s tantrum in a public place and thinking, “Those parents need to get a better handle on their child!” Cut to me with a two year old who has no problem throwing herself on the ground at any given moment. Sometimes all I can do is just throw my hands up. And now my heart goes out to “those” parents.

So instead of calling it the terrible two’s or something else a little more derogatory, I’m suppose to say I have a spirited child. And she most definitely is spirited. Mabel is no push over. She is strong-willed. She knows what she wants. And when I tell her differently, I brace myself. It’s challenging but I know her strong personality will serve her very well later on in life. In fact, I find comfort in it.

My husband and I have set boundaries and rules with Mabel. We stick with them even when I know all hell is about to break loose if we don’t give in. We stand united. I have to say that really helps. Consistency is the key through this stage even when I feel like we may not be making progress at times. I know it’ll even out at some point.

I know her strong personality will serve her very well later on in life...

I also don’t want to paint a bad portrait of my child. Mabel is loving, funny, and ever so sharp. She’s opened my eyes to a new and exciting world. Taught me patience and the meaning of unconditional love. She’s truly a blessing at any moment of any day.

I don’t really have time these days to read any and every parenting book around. So I go to the best sellers. I’ve found some interesting advice in The Happiest Toddler on the Block .  Also, Raising Your Spirited Child. I’ve been able to pick and choose what I like from both books. I’ve also found comfort in the fact that this is a totally normal stage.

Any words of advice for getting through the two’s? Any books you read that you could share?

From my home to yours,


Emma xx

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Kathleen says:

Ummmm, the terrible twos become the terrible teens – James’ son is 14 and will be a lawyer because he will argue and negotiate you into the ground. Funny that you have to stand your ground, isn’t it…you are the mommy and daddy – you do realize that you don’t run the house – te he – ha! The united front is the best line of defense – when they are in the heat of the moment, all they know is that they are not getting their way – once the dust settles and decibel level drops, they realize but never admit knowing we are doing what is best… and when it is me, James and his ex in agreement – oooh, how they hate that – no trying to say mom said, dad said. 😀

Emma Heming Willis says:

You mean it doesn’t get easier!? 😉 Mabel has a teen? Have mercy.
Thanks for sharing

Kathleen says:

UPDATE – they challenge you, they make you laugh, they frustrate you but they open your mind to new ways of thinking – I will hear my mother come out of my mouth but there are times I know her ways were her ways, I am forging and creating my ways and hopefully helping to guide them but can’t wait for their turn at a store tantrum 😀

Mimi says:

My daughter was a spirited baby, toddler, and now little lady (five years old). I used to think “You’re only a few months old, how can you be so opinionated already?” She was a screamer, not a cryer. I breast fed her until she was over two and co-slept mostly because her “spirited” ways. I was more terrified of her reaction to weaning and sleeping on her own but letting her do things like wean on her schedule was the best thing I did. I, too, read “Raising Your Spirited Child” and it was very helpful. For what it’s worth, she is an amazing, well-adjusted, smart, considerate and I am most proud, emphathetic little girl. She still sleeps with us occasionally, on my request to cuddle.

Mimi says:

Oh and watch out for the three’s….that was harder than 2. Google it, it exists.

Emma Heming Willis says:

Well I have a friend that calls the 4’s the f-ing 4’s so hold tight!

Antoinette Brant says:

i love the term “spirited” because it’s so fitting! I have an almost three year old little boy and he likes to be “spirited” at any given moment! I don’t blame him. It’s so hard to understand the rules and why mom & dad said “No.” Setting boundaries really helps us because it allows Everett to know his boundaries and what he can & cannot do. Ultimately, it sets him for success. I am going to look into the books you mentioned. Thank you for your blog. I enjoy it! Happy Holidays!

Emma Heming Willis says:

There’s so much for them to take it. It can be overwhelming for myself let alone a 2 year old!! Happy Holidays to you too xx

Julia-Selina says:

Okay, I did not know yet. My mother just told me that I had a terrible twos at that age. I’ve thrown in the shop on the ground and my mother went ahead and said; when you’re done, I’m further a shelf. I just do not remember it.

The positive thing is with 16 years, I was a quiet teenager.

Kiss and Hugs Julia ^_^

Emma Heming Willis says:

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the quite teenager 🙂

Kathleen says:

Te He – just when you think you figured them out – they sneak in a change – right now she is Mabel 2.0

Emma Heming Willis says:

Tell me about. Something new at every corner :/

carli says:

My son is 3 and i am finding it harder now that when he was 2, he doesnt seem to listen to me and the timeout doesnt seem very effective anymore.
some days he so loving but othets just like today has been a nightmare i never know if my words are going to bring out a tantrum because i have no way of stopping it. Advice please x

Emma Heming Willis says:

Gosh I wish I could give advice!! Really, all I can say is picking up one of those books I’ve read. If it speaks to you follow it and some good will come. I know what you are feeling. xx

Audrey says:

Im actually watching Maisie’s little brother (he is 2) today….he spent the night with us last night. His mom (single parent) had a hot date last night. Yes, she and I are friends. Im more like her life coach or parent at times. Anyways 🙂 I recall Thomas at this age as I work with Luca on an alphabet puzzle (that I bought for him). I think that the toddler years are such an opportunity for growth. What you do today impacts tomorrow. Thomas wasnt typical and to be honest I cant remember the books I read WAY back then. My advice and what I used back then and with Luca is…. reward the positive and ignore the negative. That tantrum if aknowledged can last at great lengths. Attention is attention positive or negative. Notice her strengths and use them often. I recall a mention of wishing you could run errands with her… put her to work :). This helped a great deal with Thomas who greeted the world in agony sometimes. If you redirect, and keep them busy they tend to stay out of trouble. One important thing Ive learned with children is they feed off of us. If we lose it…they lose it. Follow through on any and all direction positive or not. Mommy means business and thats not negotiable. Believe it or not Maisie and I watch super nanny and she will make mention of certain people who need to watch that show. I explain the methods and why they are used. And even at 7 she uses those methods on her little brother. There arent any specific rules really because all children are different. My last thought is this after dicipline be sure to give hugs and encourage better choices (we use sticker charts).

My dad always told me I dont like what youve done but I always love you.

Hope this helps 🙂
hugs, Audrey

Emma Heming Willis says:

This is some wonderful advice! I do need to focus more on the good than the bad. And there is a lot of good. Thank you. I needed to hear this. xxx

Katy says:

Yes!!! My Julianna will be two next month and she’s quite the handful. I’ve read a lot of gentle parenting books to help me not revert to my quite negative disciplinarian upbringing but oy vey!! My favs are ‘Peaceful parent, happy kids’, ‘Unconditional parenting’, ‘The emotional life of a toddler’, ‘Raising an emotionally intelligent child’ and ‘Hold on to your kids’. Hugs and a glass of wine at the end of the day! 🙂

Leigh says:

I feel the same way you do — in those hard moments when I’m frustrated, angry, embarrassed, exhausted by my child’s inconvenient meltdown or outburst I also find myself impressed by (and even grateful for) her strength of spirit. I also feel a sense of compassion — I know it must be hard to be this little person feeling out-of-control and racked with emotion. Years ago I read something in Naomi Aldort’s book, “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves”, the author outlines an approach to dealing with these situations, that can be remembered with the acronym SALVE. It has stuck with me through 3 children, and although I still have my fair share of moments where I could have been more patient, or more present, or more in-tune, it has really helped me, as Aldort says, “find my way back to wisdom and love”. Definitely check out the book if you haven’t already — I think you would love it — but essentially, the 5 steps of SALVE boil down to: S – Self inquiry
A – Attention on child
L – Listen
V – Validate
E – Empower

Love your posts! XOXO, Leigh

Summer says:

Oh yes, you know I too have a very spirited 2 year old. Those books have been great for me too. Both great reads! I also really like Simplicity Parenting by Kim Payne. Really insiteful tips for kids and mom and just creating a harmonious environment and daily rhythm.
Another great post Emma! Sending love and light! Xoxo!

Helo Emma
my name is isabela i from poland no speak ingles I use google translator.
I am 40 years old and 3 children and husband will say that I am a fan of your husband, but now also your your blog is great, I read it out of curiosity and as you can see if it is a US or Polish or celebrities ordinary children are the same, funny, crazy, a thousand ideas per minute. I am a simple woman working in the company of lingerie. I have a Facebook profile, so you can see my children. The oldest is 17 years old Krystian raised him alone, then I met current husband and I Dominika Adrian nine years and six years. You are truly a beautiful woman and your children will definitely wonderful with the rest of you can see it on photo.Mabel and Evelyn. I’m glad your happiness. You know what I like in your husband smile is disarming. and that’s enough for me. My husband always calls me his films when they fly in telewzji. I greet you warmly and wish you much happiness in the new year

bella says:

I am a grandmother now but I have raised three daughters. My middle daughter was a high need baby, very strong willed child, more difficult than my other daughters at two years old. She turned into a wonderful, sweet child who was a delight to us and her teachers etc. she is also very intelligent. She was a difficult teenager beginning at fifteen with many battles with us over curfew, rules etc. we stuck to our guns and enforced our rules. We meant what we said. She turned out great! Her strong willed personality served her well in college. She was not a follower and never took drugs. She now owns three restaurants, a successful business owner who gives back to her community, active in her church, and a wonderful wife and mother. I think the strong willed children can turn out the best as they are not the followers. Have faith that as an adult she will give you so much joy and all the love and care you gave to her will return to you tenfold.

Emma Heming Willis says:

Thank you for this! It’s nice to hear there’s a light at the end of the tunnel 🙂
Well done to your daughter and to you!

Matt says:

As an older (and first time) father (55) I probably have a different take on this 🙂 – when I was a boy my parents were pretty strict, and spankings were generally the norm (with a belt) – and the main thing I learned from that was how much I hated my dad for doing that. I turned out fine of course lol, and when I was much older my father sat me down and apologized for what he did, saying that now he knew it was the wrong thing to do.

Now my own kids are 8 and 10, but when they were going thru the terrible two’s I had to figure out some way of keeping them in line without the spanking thing and what I came up with is use one finger to snap / ‘thump’ them on the side of the head. It hurts but it’s sharp short pain and it’s over with in 10 seconds. I know a lot of parents believe that you can just ‘ignore’ bad behavior and that somehow the kid will learn to be good. For the most part this does not work – and in many situations – out in public, this is pretty much impossible – what, you can just let your kid roll around on the floor of the grocery store for 10 minutes till they finally calm down ? Good luck with that plan LOL. There isn’t a decent mom on the planet that wouldn’t crack under that kind of pressure. 🙂
The other thing that worked very well was simple banishment to their room. Let them stew in there by themselves for 30 minutes and they generally get bored out of their minds. Let them out on probation – they misbehave and back they go.

I know it’s very old fashioned, but my wife and I also found it worked much better if the father was the disciplinarian – I grew up with a mom who was just to the right of General Patton, and even she had a tough time being the ‘bad guy’ – kids just respond better to the father laying down the law – maybe it’s the voice, physical size, whatever, but we found it ot be very true for our family – YMMV.

Bottom line, I used the finger thumping idea for about a year with my son and only a few months with my younger daughter (she got to see her older brother go thru the process) – and since that time – 8+ years now – we have had literally ZERO discipline problems – the kids are kind, empathetic, smart as a whip, extremely well-bahaved – and even at this age, they come to me every day for hugs and unprompted ‘I love you’s’ so I would judge the thumping idea a resounding success for us.

I FIRMLY believe that if you do not get the terrible two’s under control quickly that you will NEVER get bad behavior under control – right thru the teenager years. The terrible two’s are the absolute KEY to all the behavior you are going to have to deal with for the next 16+ years until they leave home. Solve it and you will have smooth sailing for a long time to come.

Best of luck 🙂

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