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Tips for Staying Sane While Parenting a 2-Year-Old

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Of all the developmental stages, age two is generally described as the most challenging. After all, we typically describe this stage as "the terrible twos." While it is true that the average two year old will test the limits, it is equally true that a strong desire to please you is developing more and more. Two year olds want to be good! They also want to help! Learning to play upon these desires is probably the best way for parents to maintain their sanity while parenting a two year old. Add to this the security that comes with routine and consistency, and it's smooth sailing to age three and, hopefully, beyond.

Two Year Old Milestones

Cognitive
Social
Physical
Points to objects or pictures named by someone else
Demonstrates a desire for independence - for example, she may insist on wearing her pink pajamas every night
Can undress himself
Understands names of familiar objects, body parts, and people
Begins to test her limits by showing defiant behavior - for examle, coloring on the walls when told not to do so
May show an interest in toilet training as early as 18 to 24 months (many children, however don't show interest until 3 or even 4)
Can talk in two- to four-word sentences
Separation anxiety may increase midyear, but typically fades by the end of the year
Can feed himself
By the end of age two most children are able to do the above. If your child does not engage in one or more activities above, this does not necessarily indicate a developmental delay. Each child is unique and they all develop at their own pace. As alw

Two Year Old Behavior: What to Expect

  • Blossoming language skills and the need to explore new skills and discoveries may prompt your two year old to question everything. "Why," "what," and "how" questions are typical for the average two year old, and while they may be annoying and sometimes infuriating for parents, it is a necessary parent of two year old development.
  • Though your two year old can say hundreds of words, it may be necessary for familiar adults to "translate" for those who are less familiar. This is due to immature pronunciation skills. Two year olds also understand simple directions and many common phrases.
  • Recently developed motor skills and senses make exploring the world much easier for the two year old. Their curiosity is on high and that typically use a method of "trial and error" to explore the world around them. Children this age typically practice a skill again and again until they master it. They engage in pretend play, often mimicking activities they observe frequently in adults. This is how they process their daily experiences.
  • The groundwork for fundamental skills, such as reading and writing, begins at age two. Many two year olds enjoy when adults read books to them. They may even pretend to read themselves. They often scribble when practicing writing skills, but this will lead to writing their first letters in no time.
  • Daily play activities help the two year old to pick up on important concepts of time, such as "yesterday," "today," and "tomorrow." Other mathematical concepts are also beginning to develop. For example, may two year olds can sort shapes, stack rings by size, and even solve simple puzzles. They also understand simple forms of addition and subtraction using the numbers one and two.
  • Physically, the average two year old has developed into a powerhouse of activity. They often explore the world using various modes of travel. This includes running, walking, rolling, crawling, climbing, and jumping. They can kick, catch, and throw (though these activities may not yield very accurate results).
  • Two year olds are still developing those fine motor skills. This means games involving clay, scribbling with crayons, or even finger movements (such as those in the itsy bitsy spider) aid the two year old in practicing these skills.
  • Though they may keep to themselves, many two year olds enjoy playing alongside other children. Unfortunately, conflicts will undoubtedly arise and this is prime opportunity for the adults around them to prevent aggression and teach appropriate behavior. Controlling emotions is still quite difficult for the average two year old and frustration may trigger a complete meltdown or tantrum.

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Tips for Parenting a Two Year Old

1. Help them grow their vocabulary. Though the vocabulary of a two year old is far more advanced that that of a younger child, it is still quite limited. Add to this a desire to establish a little independence and you can easily see why two year olds can get pretty frustrated. As a parent, it is important to help them express themselves. Building that vocabulary is a great way to prevent your two year old from resorting to a tantrum. Instead, it is more likely that they will express their feelings in words as oppose to behavior. How can you help build their vocabulary? The best way is by simply talking to them. Be careful, however, because all children eventually pick up on every word we say. Make sure the words you use are words you don't mind them repeating.

2. Consistency is the key. Your two year old is just beginning to understand many important concepts. One of these is the concept of cause and effect. Children thrive on predictability. Parents who are consistent have a much better time encouraging the behaviors they want and dissuading the the undesired behaviors.

3. Leave time for "I can do it! One of the key roles of any two year old is to establish some independence. You may frequently hear your child adamantly declare that they are quite capable of doing certain things themselves. This often comes at the most inopportune times for us parents. To combat this and make things a bit easier on the both you, remember to add additional time to your routine or activity. Allowing extra time for your child to do things for themselves is a great way to build confidence and self esteem.

4. Give Choices. Allowing your child to choose between two things also aids in their independence. In addition, they will be far less likely to throw a tantrum. Two choices is sufficient at this age. More may overwhelm them and have the opposite effect that the one we desire.

5. Allow them to help. Your two year old may desire to help you so much that it actually begins to get in the way. The secret to maintaining your sanity as a parent is simply to create times when they can help and tasks that make great helpers. For example, your two year old may be great at rolling and dropping dough for that next batch of cookies.

6. Simple commands are best. Don't bombard your two year old with a list of things you want them to do. Start out with one simple command, allow them to complete the task, and them give them the next simple command. Also, commands should be specific instead of general. Most two year olds respond much better to "put your truck in the toy box" than to "go clean your room."


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      my son didn't start asking the 3 "W" until he reach age 3.5 yrs old. He was a slow talker. Instead at age 2, he loves to run and hung on me like a sloth!

    • LQWILLIams profile image
      Author

      LQWILLIams 4 years ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • amandabepler profile image

      amandabepler 4 years ago

      I was great over all. I do have to ask, what about 2.5 year old's such as my daghter who are extremly stubborn to the point of a tantrum at every consersation eventhough your tips are implemented with great consistency over an extended period of time? Unfortunalty she inherited both mom and dad's stubborness.

    • LQWILLIams profile image
      Author

      LQWILLIams 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for commenting and reading. Sounds like your little one is full of personality. Children learn what they live. If you and her father are both stubborn... well... this may be a trait you have to contend with. You can try consciously modeling some different behaviors for her as a way of encouraging a change. The good thing about two year olds who have tantrums is that they generally grow out of them :-) and sometimes ignoring the behavior is the best means of extinguishing it quickly.

    • KenDeanAgudo profile image

      Kenneth C Agudo 3 years ago from Tiwi, Philippines

      Wonderful. Thanks for the good read

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