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The Twos

Bradley was finally in bed, sound asleep. He looked like a little angel. Quite a contrast to his waking hours when he is loud, curious, and volatile—a machine, constantly moving. Welcome to the world of the two-year-old—a time of significant learning, strong wills, and temper tantrums.

A toddler’s developmental process gives special meaning to the phrase “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This is a time of great physical development, language acquisition, intellectual curiosity, and emotional development. It can also be a time of frustration, anger, precious moments, and loving interaction for both parent and child.

For the first time in his life, a child now has the capability to explore his environment. He wants to run, jump, and kick. He wants to pick things up to see how they feel. He is curious about how drawers can be pulled out and books taken off shelves. This is all normal behavior. It allows a child the chance to further develop physical skills and cause-effect thinking. Parents need to encourage this process by actively playing with their two-year-old.

At this age, silence is definitely not golden. Parents need to talk with their child. During this time, a child learns to connect things with words, and he begins putting words together to express ideas.

By the end of the second year, a child has a vocabulary of about a thousand words. Words like no and phrases like me do it are a testimony to the two-year-old’s spirit of self-will. But expressions such as I love you also find their way into his communication.

Two-year-olds express their emotions quite strongly. Their personality and character traits seem to really come out during this year. Self-gratification is usually the driving factor. At this age, children can use newly developed motor skills to express their anger by redecorating your walls. A two-year-old can also be downright stubborn, shouting “I don’t want to” at the most embarrassing moments. Temper tantrums are a normal reaction to frustration. Parents can handle a tantrum best by letting it run its course, making sure the child is in safe surroundings and won’t hurt himself or someone else. Don’t give in; that will only reinforce such behavior. Stay calm. Be in control of yourself. Reacting with emotion to your child’s emotion will only spawn more outbreaks.

A two-year-old’s imagination also comes to life. Without hesitation, he imagines being a policeman, a tree, a dog. Imagination sows the seeds of creativity. It allows a child opportunities to “try on” different roles in life.

This is also a wonderful time to make up prayers and sing new songs to Jesus. Children quickly learn to retell Bible stories, often using pictures. They need to be encouraged to express their simple, child’s faith in Jesus.

Two-year-olds always present some unique challenges for their parents. But the twos don’t have to be a terrible time. This should be a time for unwrapping wonderful new experiences, feelings, and abilities that God has arranged for two-year-olds and parents to enjoy.


12N2026_patientparentingFrom Patient Parenting, by John Juern. © 2006 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.