Some of the things we struggle with are actually normal behavior for children. At age two, kids are just learning to connect to their world but still haven’t grasped many concepts adults take for granted.
Kids act according to specific development stages. Here are some of the things we need to stop expecting of two-year olds - plus what you can do instead.
Sharing does not come naturally to kids. According to a recent study, although kids can learn the basics of sharing from age three, it is only from around age seven that they fully understand the concept of sharing. Even at age three, the concept of ownership is hard for kids to grasp. They don’t understand that what they own is theirs, and that they will eventually get back what belongs to them when they share.
Rather than force your kids to share, let them see you sharing stuff. Share books with your partner, share cookies with the kids, teach your child about sharing by being a model.
The reason why temper tantrums are common at age two is because young children don’t have the words to express themselves yet. Young children are often unable to differentiate between different strong emotions and therefore react to them in the only way they know how, i.e., by acting out and throwing tantrums.
One of the worst things you can do when dealing with tantrums is to fail to be consistent. The second is to give in. When we give in, we teach our kids that tantrums will get them what they want. Tantrums, however, can also point to your child’s inability to verbalize emotions so it’s important to know when to ignore them (unless if your child risks putting herself or others in danger) and when to hold your child close to show her she’s safe. Remember that it is also at around this age that your kid will start experimenting with independence. It’s never too early to familiarize your child with the different emotions and coping mechanisms she can use. When your child knows that a hug will help her calm down, she is more likely to come to you for a hug, rather than throw a tantrum when she’s sad. Avoid situations that trigger your child’s tantrums.
Children’s ability to delay gratification predicts their success as they grow older. Problem is, two-year olds “want it all and want it now.” That’s just the way it is. Although kids (from around age five) can be taught distraction techniques to help control behavior, these techniques just don’t work with toddlers.
When kids have to wait too long, they’re bound to become agitated and frustrated so don’t keep them waiting for longer than is necessary. At this age, your kid has a short attention span so you can try distracting her by proposing an attractive alternative. Remember, however, that young children seek immediate gratification and tend to consider that the longer they have to wait for a reward, the less the subjective value of that reward (gifts, hugs, special treats, etc.).
At age two, kids rarely play with other kids – they play alongside other kids. Parallel play occurs at around this age, and it involves children playing next to each other without trying to influence one another’s behavior.
Every kid goes through parallel play before transitioning into a social player, so don’t force your kids to play with other kids, especially if they seem comfortable playing by themselves. Remember that at age two, behavior is self-directed. Moreover, playing alongside other kids helps children’s development. Although kids may not play together, by looking at each other and adjusting their behavior, they learn important social skills.
There’s a common misconception that two-year-olds are helpless, yet it is at this age that they start experimenting with independence. It is also at age two that kids also start trying to act like their parents. Moreover, children gain confidence when they’re able to do things by themselves.
It takes a village!
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