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Being a Two-Year-Old Isn’t Terrible, They’re Just Learning To Be Human

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If you have a two-year-old, you know they have quite a reputation, and it’s not always good. Don’t be fooled. These little ones are pretty brilliant.

Two-Year-Olds Aren’t Terrible, They’re Just Learning How To Be Human

Being a Two-Year-Old Isn’t Terrible

The screaming, crying and hissy fits are hallmarks of a two-year-old. They come by the nickname “terrible twos” honestly. Oh, and once they learn the word NO, life will never be the same for a parent. If you’re interested, read our post about encouraging a child’s dinosaur addiction.

We Should Stop Calling Normal Two-Year-Old Behavior Terrible

If you’re a new parent, you probably dread the terrible twos. I’m sure you’ve heard all about what to expect. The truth is, a little 2-year-old isn’t engaging in terrible behaviors. The truth is that they are behaving completely normally. In truth, it’s parents who may be (unwittingly) terrible.

We don’t mean to be. We do our best with our kids, no matter how old. On the negative side, we adults tend to thrust our own ideas of good and right and normal onto our sweet babies. And our ideas of acceptable behavior? Not necessarily the right thing for these young kids.

What research says they can understand.

1. Two-year-olds definitely care what you think. A study by the American Psychological Association claims it’s true.

“Our research suggests that by 24 months old, children understand that their behavior can be positively or negatively evaluated by others,” said lead researcher Sara Valencia Botto.

2. Your two-year-old believes everything is their fault. This is hard to hear. How terribly sad. It almost made me cry, to be honest. When death, divorce, or illness happens, your little girl or boy will feel they played some role in it. It’s for this reason that when parents separate or a family member gets sick, two-year-olds often feel responsible.

3. They are true explorers. Anna Waismeyer, a researcher University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, compared 2-year-olds to adults visiting a foreign country.

“They have just enough language to get around, but they don’t really know what’s there yet. Everything is really new and exciting. They’re just exploring, learning the cultural customs, how the world works, and how to talk to people.”

4. Two-year-olds understand more than you think. Unfortunately, they may not have the words they need to talk about it, but they comprehend plenty.

Being a Two-Year-Old Isn't Terrible, They're Just Learning To Be Human

5. A two-year-old has distinct personality traits. Be careful not to lump in every behavior as something common for kids of this age. They are developing a sense of self and you’ll begin to see their individuality take center stage.

6. Fake crying is not manipulative. “Your child is fake crying, but it’s not to trick you,” Waismeyer tells parents. “It’s because they learned that when they cry, they get [something they want]. To trick someone, you have to have the intent of giving them false knowledge.”

7. Toddlers are information sponges. For example, a toddler may repeat salty words parents aren’t thrilled about. (Especially since they learned them from us! We’ve all been there.) Their small brains soak it all up, the good, bad and ugly.

With this in mind, experts suggest when a kiddo this age asks WHY again and again, you should answer them as best you can. You can really fill up those growing brains with good information.

Do you have a two-year-old?

Does this information make sense to you? How do you make sure you always take into account what a two-year-old is capable of?

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1 comment

  1. Do these university people have children of their own that they have raised or are they just studying children they can walk away from? I taught my child, right from wrong and manners and respect. I now have a 2 year old grandchild and my son wants me to instill the same values. If we don’t, we will continue to have children growing up believing that they are owed the world and there are no consequences for their actions.