Talk about a bad rap. Everyone knows about the terrible twos, even people who don’t have kids. And there’s a grain of truth to that label. Diana Balicsak and her husband, Robert, have seen it in their two-year-old daughter, Alise: “We’ve endured temper tantrums, hitting, not listening.” But, she says, “we would definitely not describe her as a terrible two! She’s so much more fun than anything else!”
Two-year-olds are fun. And if we can take their admittedly challenging behavioural ups and downs in stride, there’s lots more to enjoy and celebrate about twos:
1. Unfettered enthusiasm
When the Balicsaks pick Alise up after Montessori school, she comes running up, full of smiles, hugs and kisses. “That’s a great way to end your workday!” says Diana. And when she receives a gift, no matter how small, “she gasps and smiles.”
2.. Irresistible charm
“Gabriel at two was still looking babyish but talking like a little boy,” says his mom, Stephanie Bartsch. “It was an awfully cute combination. He learned quickly that looking people in the eye and saying ‘Please? Yes?’ got him anything he wanted!”
3. Rockin’ talkin’
Is there anything more charming and exciting than watching a toddler’s communication skills take off? A child who has just a few words on his second birthday will be talking her head off by three.
“I cannot get enough of hearing her version of her world,” says Karen Bleakley, mom to 2½-year-old Sophie. “Even when you’re dead tired, you still really want to talk to her.”
Sophie has also burst into song. Her mom says, “She’ll start singing about whatever she’s doing: I’m gonna take my baby for a walk. She’s gonna be so haaaapeeee.”
4. Imaginative leaps
Two sees the beginning of pretend play. At first it’s mostly imitative; Alise, for example, loves to put her stuffed animals to bed. “She covers them up with numerous blankets, tucks them in up to their shoulders and kisses them — just like we do for her,” says Balicsak. “It’s very cute to see someone mirror your actions so well.”
Rachel, nearly two, talks on her mom’s cellphone. “What’s so funny is that every once in a while, she’ll throw her head back, put her hand on her mouth and laugh,” says her mom, Julie Wammes. “It’s hilarious!”
5. Dogged determination
Think of all the new skills twos are trying to master. Think of how many tries, over and over, each one takes in order to finally succeed. Would we work so hard at learning, every single day?
“It can be as simple as trying to get her shirt on,” says Balicsak. “You can just see Alise trying, thinking and trying again.”
6. Tender hearts
Though toddlers can’t truly understand another person’s perspective yet, they can definitely sympathize with others. “Last week my husband, Jean, came down with a tummy bug,” says Bleakley. “Sophie seems to understand when he doesn’t feel great and wants to make him feel better. She’ll give him hugs and ask, ‘You better now, Daddy?’”
To which, it goes without saying, Daddy answers yes — whether he is or not!
7. The laugh factor
“The number of times Gabriel made me laugh far exceeds the number of times he made me crazy,” says Bartsch. “In fact, it’s the only time in my life I had to cover my face to stop myself from laughing at someone’s angry outburst!”
But why are they so…you know?
Let’s be honest — much as we love them, toddlers (especially 18- to 30-month-olds) are a handful. Tammy Boyd, program coordinator at Family Matters, the Annapolis County Family Resource Centre in Drodgetown, NS, explains why: “They are developing so quickly that it’s hard for them to make sense of everything. And they don’t have control over their emotions, so there may be some lashing out and temper tantrums.”
If your little one is starting to communicate, teach them some simple manners with this video: