We’ve all at least heard of the “terrible two’s” many parents have experienced the phenomena first hand. Whining, refusing to eat; sleep; or cooperate in general, and temper tantrums are all characteristics we associate with 2 year olds. Many toddler’s first an favorite word is “no” which can continue the negativity.
Well what if it doesn’t have to be like that? I’d like to help parents learn how to defuse some of these situations when they come up. Even better I’d like to help parents prevent these behaviors all together. Let’s end the notion that two year olds are terrible!
The new section of this blog called My child won’t… is designed to help parents understand where some childhood behaviors come from. With an understanding of developmental milestones parents can work through issues more confidently.
First some background on toddlers. Two year olds are not small adults, they are still developing their understanding of the world. Reasoning with a 2 year old isn’t advisable! Certainly parents should explain things to their toddler but long explanations will not help you get the desired behavior.
Toddlers are just realizing their autonomy. They are beginning to understand they’re parents are separate entities from themselves. Infants and very young toddlers operate from the notion that you are somehow attached to them.
With this new found autonomy also comes a sense that they can control their environment, and maybe even you mom and dad! You will be smart to allow your toddler much control during this time. You’ll also be smart to set a few wise limits and stick by them.
As a former toddler teacher (currently teaching preschool) I’ve listened to many parent say “My two year old won’t clean up their toys at home.” I’ve advised countless parents to use the same techniques we use at school. I’ll share some of those techniques with you below.
My 2 Year Old Won’t Clean Up Toys
There are several ways to approach clean up time with your toddler. The tasks should be fun and easy. Approach your toddler with a daunting chore, and you’ll likely get your two to be terrible.
- Have reasonable expectations and make them clear and easy to understand.
- Make the rules clear and firm. You choose the rules because you know what’s safe in your home.
- A one toy at a time rule might be too much for a child who plays alone or with siblings. Although if you are there playing too (preferably for the most part) you might want to employ this rule.
- With the one toy at a time rule the child chooses a toy and the expectation is to put it away before choosing the next.
- Toys for toddlers need to be on low shelves, in bins or baskets. Make sure your toddler can control the environment with out much help from you.
- Rotate toys. Your child doesn’t need to have every toy in the house accessible. We find in the classroom children master most toys and activities in about two weeks.
- Rotate books as well. You might want to do this seasonally, or with holidays. In the classroom we rotate the books weekly.
- Make clean up fun. If it’s a huge chore, with angry parents shouting orders you’ll get resistance. There are lots of ways to make clean up more fun.
Here’s a great video of how cute it is when toddlers clean up.
My 2 Year Old Won’t Take A Nap
Napping can be effected by the same developmental milestone (autonomy) that can effect a two year olds’ willingness to clean up toys. Toddlers are just learning that they can have control over their own bodies. This autonomy can make them try to control you too! Children this age need grown ups that can hold their ground on the family expectations and rules.
Again I can tell you that teachers at thousands of child care centers get groups of 2 year old children to nap every day. Of course not every child sleeps everyday and that’s an important point for parents to remember at home.
Finally, a key factor in getting any child to nap is tiredness. If a child sleeps in late, and sits idle all morning passively watching TV, a nap might not be possible, or at least not until late in the day. The take away here is to get your toddler up and active early in their day. These tips might help with a child who won’t take a nap.
- Routine is everything. You choose the routine as you know what works for your family.
- Physical activity (out doors if possible) will help any child be tired by nap time.
- The rest of the house should be calm but silence should be necessary.
- Expect your child to sleep. Children strive to meet your expectations.
- Busy yourself during nap time. Checking on the toddler will be disruptive. Don’t be the reason your child stays awake.
My 2 Year Old Won’t Stay In Their Bed
Right around the second birthday most parent introduce the big kid bed. This can pose new problems for parents including safety hazards. Let’s address safety first. If your home isn’t “child safe” you’ll be smart to make it so before introducing the new bed. Even if you’re home is safe for your child during the day, while you’re awake, can you be sure your child would be safe wandering around the house while you are sound asleep? If that sounds a little scary there are some solutions to consider.
- Bed rails will prevent children from falling out of bed, and might help keep them in the bed just as a deterrent but determined kids will find their way out.
- Consider a gate on the bedroom door that will allow the door to be closed. Like a second stop gap.
- Consider gating staircases in your home.
Some tips for parents introducing the big kid bed.
- Set clear expectations and limits.
- Have a “can do” attitude.
- Just as with napping- routine is everything!
- Bath, brush teeth, potty, story (or two), sleep.
- Be sure your child is tired.
- The rest of the house should be clam but silence shouldn’t be necessary.
- Remember, as parents, you deserve some “us time” in the evening.
See how these parents get their toddler to bed in this cute video.