‘Two going on twenty’, ‘terrible two-year-old’ are phrases we have all heard before, but what is it actually like being 2? Imagine you are just realising what’s what and who is who, discovering different environments what to touch and not to touch. Supporting children between the ages of 2 and 3 is an interesting experience. You need to have patience and communicate consistent messages to help with the development of your child. They are beginning to realise that they can affect the environment around them. They also test physical and emotional boundaries in their environment to learn about good and bad.
Here are 7 ways that you as a carer or parent can help to nurture your child through this stressful time in their life.
- Setting boundaries – Rules and boundaries should be explained clearly and regularly with your child; not as a reprimand but as a reminder. Adults need to be clear about intentions and explain what behaviour they would like to see from their child and not what they don’t want to see. If you focus on the positive, ‘can you do this…’ it will be a calmer atmosphere than using negatives.
- Expressing emotions – Children need mechanisms to help process explosion of emotions that they are experiencing. Modelling appropriate language to describe how they are feeling can help them have a stronger understanding of emotions. Showing different facial emotions can help them identify how they are feeling.
- Expanding language – Most children will be able to make themselves understood verbally by the age of 2 or 3. Children need extra time to explore complexities of whole sentences, syntax, and grammar. It is important for language development and self-esteem that you wait and listen to children speaking as rushing them will cause frustration and insecurities.
- Stay consistent – Take time to explain why you are doing certain things with your child. Your child will be able to work out what they get away with in certain areas (for example; the grandparent’s) but being consistent between home and settings will make the child stick to routine a lot better.
- Learning independence – Children will still be mastering control of their bodies at this age. They need different levels of practice and support depending on what they are trying to accomplish. You must listen to the needs of your child for how much time they will need before being considered completely independent.
- A ‘sense of self’ – Between 2 and 3, children become more aware of how they see themselves and how others see them. You can help develop their awareness of themselves by asking about what they do in and outside the setting so they understand that they, and the others around them, have independent thoughts.
- New moves – Children become a lot more mobile at this age and therefore need to develop their motor skills. Games that teach children to move and stop in certain ways will help with their agility and how to move independently.