terrible twos

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terrible twos pl (plural only)

  1. (informal, psychology) A developmental stage in toddlers, normally occurring around the age of two, involving refusals and temper tantrums.
    • 1988 February, Working Mother, volume 11, number 2:
      The terrible twos can begin at 18 months and last until about age five.
    • 1990, Susan Hughes, Ryan: a mother's story of her hyperactive/Tourette syndrome child:
      The terrible twos came early. Almost a year early. When Ryan learned to walk it was the end of our peace of mind!