Terrible Twos

My youngest is two, coming up three. We went through a really tricky phase with him when he was smaller but that seemed to have passed…or at least we felt his behaviour had improved.

He is going through a very tricky phase at the moment.

Today he had a meltdown that lasted almost two hours. He hit, kicked, screamed, cried, threw things, self harmed…and just didn’t know what to do with himself.

There was a clear trigger but once he was in the grasp of the meltdown…there was nothing I could do to help him out of it.

I think I have mentioned it before, but he hates being touched at this time. Sadly, I could not give him the space he so craved as he was being very dangerous. I had to restrain him.

Sometimes I make sure he is placed somewhere safe and let him essentially crack on. Sometimes he requires touch and security. Sometimes he just needs to get it out of his system on his own. Sometimes he needs assistance and adult intervention. The trick is knowing when to use each approach. Today I just didn’t know what to do with him.

When I say almost two whole hours…I mean it! I am not exaggerating! This poor child was so beside himself. He was bright red, extremely hot and his heart was racing like crazy. He sobbed and couldn’t breathe properly at times, and the noise he was making was clearly hurting his throat and making him cough. He was angry, upset and confused, and his face was wet with tears.

It is so awful feeling so helpless.

This meltdown started while we were out so I strapped him into his stroller and walked home. Luckily most of the people I came across gave me a friendly smile.

Luckily, I can shrug this behaviour off as ‘terrible twos’ but I wonder what the heck I am going to do when that is no longer an excuse I can get away with.

People suggest all the time that his behaviour is due to his age. Some things are, of course. But these tempers and meltdowns are beyond what you would expect of a typical child. What concerns the professionals is the extremity and duration of his meltdowns.

It is such a shame, as in everyday life he is such a bright, helpful little boy. I feel this behaviour, which genuinely seems to take him over, gives the wrong impression. I know as he gets older, just like with my eldest child, we will be able to put strategies in place to help him self regulate. Or at least I hope so. But for now, I fear we have many more of these episodes to come.

Some people have suggested that he is merely copying his older brother. This is also incredibly insulting. This was obviously one of the first things I ever considered but the children are completely different. In fact, it isn’t insulting…it’s infuriating. I know people are probably trying to help but all it feels like is that they are patronising me. People like to give you very obvious suggestions and advice that of course you have already tried and considered. I wish it was as simple as they all seem to think it is.


Thank you Claire for joining us and for your question about isolation booths.


This is something we need to discuss.

A local school has adopted zero tolerance for the children they teach. I have been told by parents and teachers that they are put in isolation over low level behaviours such as chatting. They are not allowed to talk in between lessons, whilst walking through the corridor, which I think is a shame. I used to love speaking with my friends in between classes to reflect on the lesson and see how they got on with a particular task etc.

I understand that this school experienced a lot of behaviour issues in the past and it is performing well now, but does it have to be this way?

I am very torn.

In particular, how does this affect SEN children? When I was working as teacher, isolation booths were something I only experienced later in my career. The objective was to help children concentrate but I didn’t really find that this worked all that well. It literally just isolated the children…who were usually SEN.


I am absolutely gutted…I spent ages constructing a new post and it didn’t save!!!!

I don’t know if I have the patience to rewrite it. I was about to back it up as well. Ok…here goes…

I was discussing behaviour.

Essentially, lots of other parents have told me that their neurotypical children behave like mine and that they believe some of the behaviour is just normal.

I am aware that some of the behaviours my children exhibit are typical of their ages but I urge parents of neurotypical children to understand that we know the difference. If we are attributing a behavour to ASD/SPD, please trust us.

My children are polite and well behaved but as I’ve said before, when they ‘flip’, they are quite extreme and loud, so they stand out.

I am so consistent with my behaviour management that it is sometimes hard to accept that my children can come across the way they do. Generally though, I am so proud of them, and when we go out, despite how much we have to do to keep things ticking over, they behave well.

I think we need to create new terms to differentiate between behaviour (manners/doing as one is told) and SEN ‘misbehaviours’. This is mainly because lots of behaviour exhibited by SEN children are due to developmental or processing issues and require extra support to manage.

When I was a teacher, as anybody who worked with me can confirm, I excelled at behaviour management. I believe in treating people as individuals but I also believe in clear boundaries. I was frequently called upon to help with behaviour issues and children were often sent to me when they made the wrong choices. I had my fair share of problematic behaviour which came from high numbers of SEN children as well as a plethora of other reasons.

On some level, I actually believe I was given those experiences to prepare me for my children, particularly my eldest.

One Headteacher asked if I would be interested in training to become a SENCo. At the time I wanted to be an English Coordinator, which I later did for two schools. I also had my heart set on becoming a Headteacher, but when the opportunity arose to become an Assistant Head, I quickly realised that this wasn’t the right job for me. It haunted me for some time that I had passed up an opportunity to make a real difference to so many children and gain more knowledge of SEN.

I am now very interested in working within the field of SEN. I am not quite sure in which capacity yet.

The research I conducted as a teacher, along with the strategies I put in place back then, have certainly helped with my own children. I guess that’s what enabled me to identify their differences early on and put things in place from so young.