Myth: The "twos" are terrible.
Truth: The "twos" -- or more accurately, a period that falls somewhere between 18 and 30 months of age -- are terrible only if you're unprepared. Sometime during that stretch, it's almost certain that your sweet baby will be displaced by the Toddler From Hell: stubborn, argumentative, tantrum-prone, possessed by an almost supernatural will. Needless to say, dealing with this can be, well, terrible. However, if you keep your eye on the positive side of this stage and have some knowledge about how to handle it, you and your child will both benefit.
A child this age reaches the critical and exciting point in his development at which he begins to lunge toward independence and individuality. "You want your child to establish his own identity," says Susan Anderson Swedo, M.D., a behavioral pediatrician and coauthor of Is It "Just a Phase"? (Broadway Books). "So whenever possible, you need to encourage his desire to separate from you." To make the twos more manageable, be sure to set clear limits, offer choices ("What'll it be -- the red pajamas or the blue ones?"), and try to reduce the number of situations in which rebellion must be squashed -- in other words, this might be the time to switch your grocery shopping to a day when your spouse is home to watch your child.