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During these months children generally become very aware of themselves as distinct from others. Self-centered, willful behavior tends to surface. Although it’s frustrating for parents and other caregivers to be on the receiving end of the “terrible twos”, it’s an important stage that forms the basis for a child’s independence and self-awareness. There are countless opportunities for teaching children at this age how their behavior affects others.
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Your little one is already a confident mover, and with good reason! She’s developing the balance and coordination she needs to run consistently without falling down, she can jump up and down and walk up and down the stairs. She probably still needs to put both feet on each step – but that’s ok, it’s safer that way.
Your little one is getting better and better at the small movements she needs to use her hands for detailed tasks. She can build short block towers and string beads onto lengths of yarn. Her pincer grip is more practiced and she can open a jar with a twist of her wrist. She even scribbles with crayons, making more regular, less random, marks.
Your two-year-old can really move it! He can run confidently, although not all that fast. He can walk backwards and sideways. He can even jump up and down in one spot, using both feet to push off and land again. And if all that moving wasn’t enough, he’s found that riding-toys and trikes are a new tool he can use to get around. He can climb on and use both feet to make his little vehicles move!
Your little explorer’s mobility is improving constantly – so much so that she can now put herself in some dangerous spots. Luckily, at this point she understands the difference between “safe” and “dangerous”. It’s important to teach her about safety so she knows you’re serious when you tell her something is dangerous.
At two years, your child is probably ready for a little pretend play with others, if it’s simple enough. He uses his toys more and more in creative ways that don’t fit their normal function, coming up with ways to incorporate them into fantasy scenarios he enjoys acting out (dramatic play).
Your little one is busy all the time, sorting things out in her growing mind. She can probably understand and carry out instructions with two steps and complete simple puzzles. She understands similarities and differences well enough to sort objects into groups.
Your two-year-old’s vocabulary is growing larger and larger and he is using more and more simple, two-word sentences. He likes picture books and discussing the illustrations. Toward the end of these months he may begin telling his own version of the story based on the illustrations. He will start to be able to recite numbers, and understand what you mean when you use words that describe the future.
As he learns he’s a distinct person, your little one will start using pronouns in his speech. He understands that he is “me” and you are “you”. Along with that knowledge comes a desire to have things go his own way. He’ll sometimes make demands and not understand that they could be unreasonable. But he also has a tool for handling emotional responses – playing pretend. Try asking him to express his feelings by pretending to be a shy mouse or an angry bear.
Although he may not want to play cooperatively with other kids, your little one does well playing beside others so he can keep an eye on them and learn from them. If things don’t go his way, it’s very possible he will lash out. He hasn’t yet grasped that there are other ways of dealing with frustration. Use those moments to teach him – as he discovers he’s a person with feelings, he is able to understand that he can affect others’ feelings too.
Your two-year-old probably likes to engage in conversation with you and others and will happily answer simple questions or offer to take over the narrative of some favorite stories. She can demonstrate her listening and comprehension skills by completing simple tasks you set for her. She’ll get a kick out of telling people her name and age when she’s asked.Your little one is eager to connect with you and other adults and enjoys playing games with you to discover new concepts. If he was an early talker, by now he uses words and phrases to ask questions, wanting to understand more about what’s happening in the world around him.
One hallmark of the “terrible twos” is your child’s rapid back-and-forth between wanting independence and needing your help. She wants to “do it herself”, and when she can’t, finds it extremely frustrating. She may use a favorite toy as a security device, substituting for you when she wants to be more independent of you, but still needs a security source. A regular and predictable routine is a big help for her feeling secure at this stage.
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