The young toddler years are tricky ones and these little folk get a lot of bad press!
While the celebration of your son or daughter’s second birthday is joyful, it is hard to ignore the feeling of dread as the word "No" begins to dominate their vocabulary. Though their outbursts are frustrating, keep in mind their actions are not acts of defiance directed toward you; they are developing independence and learning how to express frustration.
- Learning to talk: While we delight in hearing them say their first word, it’s just as exciting when they start to babble out full sentences. They make lots of mistakes along the way, but this only makes their efforts even more endearing. I still giggle at the thought of my eldest son when he used to call his spaghetti, his piss-getty!
- They’re big thinkers: Drawing flowers on the walls and hiding jammy toast in your underwear drawer may not seem like acts of genius, but 2-year-olds do have their own unique way of looking at things. They are creatures without inhibitions and with raw creativity and they approach everything they do with fresh eyes and passion.
- They’re not afraid to express their opinions: From what clothes they’re going to wear to what activities are on the agenda; if you ask a two year old their opinion they’ll give it to you and sometimes they don’t even need to be asked! There will times when your child grows up and you’ll find it hard to find out from them what they really want to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but not with a two year old! They’ll tell you, and it’s so much easier to plan things when your kid has expressed their enthusiasm for something.
- They can let you know what’s wrong: Babies cry a lot and you spend hours playing a guessing game in order game to find out what’s wrong with them. If a two year old’s upset or unwell they can immediately explain what’s happened or what hurts and you can do something to help them and get things back on track. There’s a great comfort when that stage comes.
- They’re adventurous little mites: They’re climbers. They launch themselves into thin air with no fear. This perilous play can fray with your nerves but with supervision it can instil great courage. They learn from an early age to realize their limitations, strengths, and their ability to make things happen on their own.
- They develop their own personality: No two kids are alike, we know that, but it’s not until our children hit those early toddler years that their true personality is revealed. We really get to know them even better at this age and can distinguish whether they’re an introvert or extrovert and what other amazing characteristics they have.
- They love to help: Two-year-olds are notorious for an "I can do it myself!" mentality - a stubborn attitude that can discourage even the most patient parents. On the bright side this self-sufficient spirit also makes for great helpers who love to help put away the washing, set the table or even feed the cat! They love to get their hands dirty in the garden and throw things in the shopping trolley, so you need eyes on the back of your head in the supermarket. Enjoy their ‘help’ while it lasts!
- Admire their mindfulness: We read constantly about how we all need the live more “in the moment”. That’s not a problem for a two-year-old! Though their short attention spans can be wearisome, but we could all learn a thing or two about being present. They don’t hold grudges or worry about things that happened last week, nope! They only focus on what is before them - often content, amused, and in awe. From eating a sticky bun to making Lego, every second is savoured. And although their meltdowns are many, you can take comfort in the fact that if you just wait a few minutes, they will soon forget and be over what's being irking them!
- They see the good in everyone: They have an innocent and innately trusting spirit – all they see is new, kind faces and potential friends. This willingness to play with and smile at anyone they come across is unique to this age. They are quick to laugh, easy to entertain, and at this amazing stage, we get to teach them about loving relationships, healthy boundaries, and how to carry out acts of kindness. They have a naturally soft-hearted nature, and by offering them a little patience and gentle guidance, we can show these tiny tots how to have good interactions with others that can last a lifetime.
- Last but not least, they believe that kisses and hugs fix everything: To a two year old, cuddles are magical. When life gets tough for these little folk, two year olds often need nothing more than a kiss from their mum or daddy. At this tender age, this powerful, affectionate gesture is a parent's most impactful tool. What these innocent little humans need from us at this incredibly young and affectionate age is love, guidance and the security of knowing a parent's fond cuddle is only ever a split second away.