Is it the Terrible Twos, or Something More Serious? 3 Easy Assessments to Help You Figure it Out

Are you constantly worrying about your toddler’s tantrums and wondering if they’re just going through the “terrible twos” or if there’s something more to be concerned about? 

I’m Dr. Mary Barbera, and in this essential podcast episode, I’m excited to share with you three simple assessments that you can perform right at home to gain insights into your child’s development. 

Don’t just blame problem behaviors on potential speech delays or the “terrible twos” when there are assessments and things you can start doing today to support your child. These early childhood assessments are designed to help you understand where to start and whether your child’s behaviors are typical for their age or indicative of potential developmental delays.

terrible twos, girl playing while crying, two year old tantrums
Yes, two-year-olds can be emotional, but excessive tantrums may be more than just the terrible twos.
  • Is it the terrible twos?
  • How assessments can help you support your child
  • How to complete a speech and language assessment
  • How to complete video baseline samples
  • The Barbera Early Childhood Assessment™ 

1. Speech and Language Assessments – Complete a Language Sample 

The first assessment I recommend is conducting a language sample. This involves setting aside a short period, such as 15 minutes, to closely observe and record every sound, word, or phrase your child utters. You’ll want to maintain a close proximity, ideally within an arm’s length, to accurately capture their verbal interactions.

Depending on your child’s verbal activity, you may choose to interact more directly to encourage speech, or sit back and allow them to express themselves spontaneously. This assessment is not only simple but immensely revealing about where your child stands in terms of language development.

Setting a timer prior to completing a language sample
Remember to set a timer before beginning your language sample.

2. Baseline Video Recordings of Play

The second assessment involves creating short video recordings of your child. This method is divided into two parts: first, recording your child playing alone, and second, recording while interacting with them.

Each video should be about one to two minutes long, capturing how your child engages with their environment and toys, both independently and with guidance. These videos are invaluable as they provide real-life insights into your child’s social skills, engagement levels, and potential areas of concern or strength that may not be evident in a more structured setting.

Record one short video of the child playing alone. That may be stacking blocks, lining up toys, or whatever they do when you aren’t engaging them

3. Early Childhood Assessments

The third tool I discuss is the Barbera Early Childhood Assessment™ or the BECA, a digital assessment that can be completed in about ten minutes. Previously known as the Turn Autism Around® assessment, the BECA has been adapted based on extensive field testing and results.

It provides a detailed snapshot of your child’s developmental status across several domains, including self-care, language and learning, and behavior. This tool is particularly useful for monitoring progress over time and determining the effectiveness of any interventions or strategies you’re employing. With the BECA, you’ll have a clearer understanding of your child’s needs, which can guide you in seeking further professional advice or adjusting your parenting approaches.