October 2, 2021 — By Wendy Sachs

Terrible two’s! We’ve been warned! We’ve seen funny memes. We know the reputation. But let’s shine a light on your two year old and see why the twos are really not so scary.  Two year olds are by nature exciting. It is a period of intense growth and brain development.

Your two year old is developing fast. You can expect your little one:

  • To copy others, and get excited to be with other kids
  • Is starting to want to be independent. They have figured out that they have some autonomy.
  • Is testing limits by saying no.
  • Can point to items when they are named and know how to identify people and things with mostly understandable words.
  • Can string together a few words in a sentence.
  • Can follow instructions – when they want to!
  • Can play make believe, build towers of a few blocks, can complete familiar rhymes.
  • Can stand on tip toe, kick a ball and begin to run.

New words will take over your world with a 2 year old. At the beginning of age 2 most toddlers speak about 50 clear words. By age three they will know more than 300 likely. Of course this means they are chatterboxes, which can be difficult for some parents and nannies. Use music when you need a break and let your toddler sing along to familiar lyrics and rhymes.

Two year olds create the perfect storm of being SUPER emotional and also testing limits. These two developmental levels combine to create meltdowns. It is important to know that these are natural and to be expected. If your child is overwhelmed by emotions, try to use deep calming breaths, like blowing out birthday candles or cooling off hot soup. Give your two year old some words for those feelings, “I bet you feel angry and disappointed you can’t have the candy now.” They won’t stop crying and use those words right away but you are building the groundwork.

Repetition is how our two year olds learn. So of course, whether it is a behavior we like or one that sets our teeth on edge, your little one is likely to get stuck on repeat. Take a deep breath and try to remember that they are learning (easier said than done sometimes!) then try to use repetition to your advantage. Install some good habits like always putting our cup in the sink or repeating new words with correct pronunciation over and over. Use finger plays and rhymes to exercise those muscles.

They have so much energy and want to control their bodies! But often their bodies haven’t quite mastered control of their bodies. Try putting away the stroller, when you can, and get walking outside. Plenty of outdoor time gives them a chance to practice those gross motor skills but also gives them a good shot of vitamin D which can help elevate their mood. Bonus – outside means less chance of getting into messes in the house. Those two year olds love to climb!

Mostly try to remember that a child’s behavior is more about them learning new skills and developing than anything else. They are practicing setting boundaries, asking for what they want and getting it. It helps us as adults have patience with them when we look thru this lens. We want them to be able to be independent and confident as they grow! Remember that what is happening is a display of their learning process and not a systematic assault on our patience. Understanding that can allow us to enjoy the fun of watching them grow and flourish.