The terrible twos are maddening and emotionally draining. I find myself reading more parenting books than ever before and asking my friends for advice. While I haven’t found a miracle cure, I have come across one magical tip that has made life a lot easier.

To you moms out there who are struggling to make sense of your toddler’s shenanigans you’re not alone.

One minute they love spaghetti, the next they refuse to eat it.

They can be happily reading a book on your lap when they pee on you and tell you they’re mad at you.

No matter how many times you tell them not to scratch your dining room table with their fork they continue to see if you actually mean it.

Bedtime is a hostile negotiation.

Just when you think you’ve had an awesome day they finish it off by kicking SO MUCH water out of the bathtub leaving you in a puddle on the bathroom floor.

They know EXACTLY how to push your buttons.

When you finally reach your breaking point they kindly dry your tears, give you a hug, and tell you “It’s OK Mommy.”

You love them, but what the hell has happened to your life? You go from being in complete control one moment to full meltdown the next.

While I haven’t come across any miracle solution, I have learned the miraculous ability to re-label the behavior as something that doesn’t leave me feeling so helpless.

It is no longer called The Terrible Twos. It is “The Boundary Phase”.

Before you stop reading and completely disregard this ultra-simple solution please hear me out.

This ah-ha moment came while reading “The Danish Way of Parenting” by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl.

We all know the terrible twos is simply a phase in which our toddlers experiment with what they can and cannot do. They push the boundaries to see if they can, to see if the boundary is firm or the rule more gray than initially described. They are figuring out what they are capable of. Your toddler is standing their ground, wanting to be in control of their lives.

Quite simply put, they aren’t being terrible at all.

Maddening yes. Terrible no.

Pushing the boundaries is very normal behavior.

During those trying moments, take a step back. See whatever it is they are doing as very normal behavior. Love that they are trying so very hard to figure out their life. It will change your world and your response.

Suddenly, your two year old isn’t throwing their food because they hate you. As you take a deep breath and examine this behavior you can see that they are frustrated. You can see that they want to know if you’ll actually follow through on your threat of taking their food away. Or maybe they are tired and don’t know how to cope.

Removing “the terrible twos” from our vocabulary has helped immensely. We still have the same battles each day but I don’t get as worked up about it. Therefore, they are resolved more easily and everyone can get back to their happy place a bit quicker.

And that’s really all that matters.