What to Expect: The Toddler Years

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What to Expect: The Toddler Years

April 29, 2016

Written by: Jennifer Landis

For parents of a child crossing over the two-year milestone, the best piece of advice is, “Brace yourself.” If you thought the first two years of your child’s life were exhausting, thrilling, rewarding and stupefying, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The “terrible twos” is the moniker slapped on kids who go from crawling to toddler. The period is a major time of discovery for both the parents and the kids. Do you think you’re ready to go head to head with your toddler? Here’s what to expect:

They Run

You’ve no doubt tracked your baby’s ability to walk with great enthusiasm. First came the sitting up and then the pulling up. Next was the “cruising” as they made their way around the parameter of the playpen. Then that glorious first day of that first step. Your young one stumbled and bumbled like your drunken Uncle on Thanksgiving — but they were walking. Hooray!

Put the cork back in that champagne, because walking leads to running and that is the sport most toddlers excel at. They want to get down and explore, which means you either need to get good running shoes or to put them on a leash.

They Learn “No”

Often the first word that a toddler learns right after “mommy” and “daddy” is “no.” That little word will actually be put to more use than “mommy” and “daddy.”

Although a toddler might not be able to speak in free-flowing sentences, that doesn’t stop them from having an opinion on just about anything. They are learning they can actually say “no” and you’ll respond by offering up an alternative or moving onto something else. That is the kind of power that should never be wielded by one so young!

They Eat Everything

Didn’t you love it when your newborn locked eyes with you for the first time? So much love. As a toddler, they’re over looking at you. There’s a big, bright world out there to explore even if that world is confined to the living room.

A toddler is going to explore through touch and taste. Yes, nearly anything that can be picked up will make a stop in the mouth. This is why baby-proofing your home is crucial at the beginning of the toddler stage. The best approach is to get down on the ground and see things from their perspective. Every button, switch, remote control and electrical outlet is fair game.

They’re Ready for Their Next Assignmentboy-633016_1920

Toddlers love getting an assignment. It could be picking up toys (that would be nice) or brushing their teeth. Allowing them to complete a task gives them a sense of accomplishment. They also are learning how to work things out for themselves, which is crucial.

The more simple tasks you can give them as part of their daily routines, the better off they’ll be. Plus, those assignments are perfect distractions for the dreaded tantrums.

They Throw Tantrums

Although “no” is a favorite part of their vocabulary, they really haven’t embraced the concept of receiving a “no” from mom and dad. The moment you set boundaries is the moment a tantrum erupts. The event is totally normal, but totally mortifying when out in public.

As with many things in this stage, it is a phase they’ll work through. The best thing you can do for your toddler is make sure you stick with those boundaries. Just because they start wailing like tiny banshees is no reason to give in. Remember, you’re the boss. They’re just in upper management.

They’re Total Sponges

If you cuss around your child at this age, don’t be surprised when they start talking like a longshoreman, too. Toddlers take in everything. It all is processed and somehow put back out. They are watching your every move to follow the basics like eating, drinking and playing.

However, they’re also picking up on a lot of verbal and non-verbal cues. Time to pay attention to your every move because they are, too!

They’re Outside-the-Box Creative

Put a Crayon into your toddler’s hand and you’ll have artwork for the fridge in no time. Just know that these kids aren’t about coloring inside the lines. The same holds true for stickers. They’re going to go up everywhere. You can set boundaries and provide all the coloring books and dry-erase boards you want, but your walls are still going to be colored.

Scared yet? Don’t be. This is just as wonderful a time as every other phase of your child’s growth and development. You’re also not alone. For every perfectly behaved child you see in the grocery store, there are a dozen more just like your little Tasmanian devil knocking over displays.

Keep your sense of humor and go with the flow. Also, be sure to take plenty of pictures to use for blackmail purposes when they get older and bring home their first date!

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