If your child is approaching the age of two, your life is about to change dramatically. I know, your life already has changed dramatically, but you’re about to enter a whole new level of, well, frustration and despair. Luckily, the difficulties only last for about two years. To help you out, let me give you some tips about living with your two year old.
First, you need to understand that toddlers have no impulse control. This is a critical piece of information, and you will need to chant it to yourself several times a day. Even when a toddler knows what she’s doing is wrong, and knows she’s going to get into trouble for it, she can’t help it. She just has to do it. So, don’t think your child is incapable of being trained when she gets into the toilet paper for the tenth time today. The best advice is just put the stuff away. And, don’t punish her too harshly. At this age, making punishment harsher for subsequent offenses isn’t helpful. The same time out routine each time will have more effect, though you must understand me when I say this – nothing except growing older will have much effect on a two year old.
Secondly, if you live with a two year old, don’t try to do anything in a hurry. Gone, at least for a while, are the days when you can “run to the grocery store”. At this age everything takes a long time, and you should just get used to it. Trying to hurry them along only creates frustration for both of you. Let them try to get in and out of the car themselves. Let them pick exactly which grocery cart you’ll use. It’s good for their development and it helps keep peace.
Thirdly, pick your battles. Don’t allow anything that’s unsafe, but don’t try to control how and when everything gets done. If she wants to wear the purple plaid pants with the yellow striped top, some days you just need to let her do it. One way to minimize the battles is to give your child some choices up front, but not too many. For instance, pick out two appropriate outfits for the day, and then let her choose between them.
Finally, enjoy this age. As difficult as two year olds can be (oh, and three year olds can be just as bad), they are also simply magical to watch. They learn something new every day. They’re excited and amazed by the simplest things, like blowing bubbles and getting a sticker. They’re a wonderful combination of baby and child, and they’ll never be this age again. Thank God.