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Parenting a 2-Year-Old

by Stacey Chaloux, studioD

Now that you have a 2-year-old, you probably have some days when you wonder where your sweet little baby has gone. While 2-year-olds can be full of energy and are fun to be around, they also can be determined and ready to assert their independence. This is why parenting a 2-year-old can be a challenge, but understanding why toddlers act the way they do can help you get through those "terrible twos" with a little more ease.

Dealing with 'No'

It might seem as though your 2-year-old's favorite word is "no" because you hear it so often. She is beginning to see herself as a separate person and it makes her feel independent to be able to disagree with you. In fact, she might even say "no" when she really means "yes." This can be frustrating for you, but if you try to make a game out of saying "no," it can take away some of the power behind the word. For example, ask her silly questions so the answer is always "no," such as "Do elephants fly?" and laugh together when she responds with a big "No!" Or offer her the opportunity to say "no" sometimes when it doesn't matter what the answer is, and try to minimize the chance for saying "no" when it is not a choice. For example, change "Would you like some milk?" into "You're having milk. Would you like it in a red cup or blue cup?"


Two-year-olds are beginning to understand their feelings, and aren't really able to manage them yet. Your 2-year-old doesn't understand why you won't let him do what he wants, and it will be easy for him to feel overwhelmed by his feelings and lose control. When that happens, you might see a tantrum. This can be scary for your child to feel so out of control, so he will need a lot of physical touch such as hugs and reassurance. It is important not to give in to your 2-year-old after he has had a tantrum, however, because this could lead to an increase in this behavior in the future. As frustrating as it can be, just know that your toddler is showing healthy, normal development when he throws those tantrums, and you will eventually get through it.

Keeping Them Safe

While you probably spent a lot of time making sure your home was a safe environment for your baby, it's time to look around your house again for any safety hazards. Two-year-olds are much more confident and can run, jump and climb, but they have not yet developed the reasoning skills to understand if what they are doing is not safe. Ensure that heavy furniture is strapped to the wall to prevent it from tipping over if your 2-year-old decides to climb on it. Pad sharp corners on furniture because your toddler enjoys running but is still unsteady and has trouble stopping. Keep heavy or hot objects away from the edge of tables and countertops and turn pot handles away from the front of the stove to keep your 2-year-old from pulling them down on top of themselves.

Toilet Learning

Many children show they are ready to begin using the toilet during their second year. Take it at your child's pace and know that you won't be able to force him until he is ready. One sign to look for is the ability to go for a couple hours without wetting a diaper, which shows he is physically ready to hold his urine. If he is telling you that he has dirtied his diaper or showing signs that tell you he what he's doing -- like hiding in a corner, for example -- then he's probably ready to learn about using the toilet. If you get started and are not seeing progress, back off a bit and try again when he's a little older.

About the Author

Stacey Chaloux is an educator who has taught in both regular and special education early childhood classrooms, as well as served as a parent educator, teaching parents how to be their child's best first teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education from Graceland University.

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