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jca's avatar

Parents and caretakers: How do you tell the difference between a toddler that's exhibiting typical terrible twos' behavior vs. a toddler that's on the way to becoming a brat?

Asked by jca (35989points) June 28th, 2010

Nothing specific to my child – just a general question. How do you know the difference between typical terrible twos vs. bratty behavior, so as not to end up with a self centered, demanding child?

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7 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it’s a matter of how often and when it occurs. I would think that the terrible twos would be more random and not as constant as a child that is developing self-centered behavior. That’s just my guess though. My son didn’t have the terrible twos (he waited until he was 5 for the acting out, so I said we had the frightful fives instead of the terrible twos).

WestRiverrat's avatar

I think it is the reaction of the parents to the ‘terrible two’s’ that determines whether the child will become a brat or a well behaved child.

It does not really matter why a child is acting out, the parents have to be consistent and firm. A major part of a child’s development is testing the limits. A parent’s job is to set and enforce those limits.
If you don’t teach your child how to properly deal with frustration and not always getting what he or she wants as a child, the prisons and police will likely be the ones that have to teach them.

ragingloli's avatar

It is like quantum mechanics. It is both. At the same time. Which state the wave function collapses into depends entirely on the actions of the parents.

dpworkin's avatar

Because it is transient. The “terrible twos” erupt on schedule. A problematic child will have revealed itself long before 24 months.

MissAusten's avatar

I agree with @WestRiverrat and @dpworkin . Both made points I thought of when I read this question: How a parent responds to the “terrible twos” largely determines how long the behavior will persist, and also that a child who is spoiled and used to getting his or her own way will already exhibit terrible behaviors before turning two. I used to work with toddlers, and most of them were not yet two when they came into my classroom. Even then, it was clear which ones controlled Mom and Dad.

When a child of any age pushes limits, consistent, loving enforcement of the rules along with a healthy dose of personal responsibility will usually curb the problem. Some kids are easier than others, and some will put up a huge fight before admitting defeat. When my youngest was two, he decided he should have candy for breakfast. For a week straight he threw a fit every morning when I said no. He finally gave up on that and instead asked for ice cream. Another week of being intensely angry each morning went by before he finally decided to eat a normal breakfast without any drama. I was shocked at how long he kept it up even though we never caved in. Our two older kids would never have lasted one morning, let alone seven. He’s still a “drama queen” but not nearly so often as when he was younger and he gets over his frustrations much more quickly.

That said, in my experience it is the threes you really have to watch out for. I love, love, love two year olds!

Cruiser's avatar

The best and easiest is to look at the parents. If the parents got it together the kid will have it together. Nuff said!

YARNLADY's avatar

Easy, look at the parents reactions to the behavior. Do they give in to every demand, or use the time as a teaching moment?

When my three year old grandson pushes his brother, instead of yelling at him, I show him how to hold his brother’s hand so he can’t grab toys away, or I show him how to place a box of baby’s toys in between them so baby brother can’t interfere.

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