The key word for this age is “Again!” She may want to follow exactly the same routine day in and day out or wear the same clothes every day or eat the same foods. As irritating as this can be to live with, the repetition is providing your little one with a sense of stability and control. She is trying to make sense of her world. Once she figures out how something is supposed to work, she wants to do it over and over to make sure it happens that way every time. When she sees the same result, she is reassured and gains confidence. Rituals provide comfort.
Endless repetition in play is actually building strong pathways in the brain. This is why telling her not to climb on the sofa to look out the window seems to fall on deaf ears. She is just reassuring herself that she can look out and that things are as she expected them. So when she only wants to play with her blocks and only wants to stack them just so, don’t fret. When she has secured that bit of information in her brain and strengthened the muscles to do the job correctly, she’ll go on to other types of play.
Living with this kind of rigidity and constant repetition can be trying, however. When it really doesn’t matter if you do it her way or another way, indulge her. She will eventually decide to do something different herself. When it involves a behavior that is unreasonable or inappropriate, you must refuse calmly, but firmly. Refusing may cause a tantrum, but she must learn you are boss and what you say goes.
Read it again
No matter how many picture books you have in your home or how many trips you make to the library, your two-year old wants you to read the same books again and again. Even so, keep a wide variety of books available for your child. Read new titles and give her a sneak preview of new books often. Maybe tomorrow she’ll want you to read a new book.
There are lots of good reasons to re-read her books to her as many times as she wants them read. First of all, her favorite part of the day is probably when she is snuggled up with you to read a book. She is calmed by being with you, doing something she loves.
Each time you read a familiar book, more of the words make sense to her. She begins to connect the words she hears with the pictures she sees. Hearing the sentences many times helps her decode the grammar too. These are necessary pre-reading skills.
Seeing characters she’s familiar with is like visiting her old friends. She is comforted to see them again and hear the same story about them. Her confidence grows when she sees what she expected to see when the page is turned. She experiences a sense of power in knowing what is on a printed page. Since she cannot read for herself, the next best thing is to memorize the story. The only way she has to memorize it is to have you read it as many times as she wants.
“No, no, no!”
Why does your daughter say “no” so much? Because she can! It sounds like an old joke, but it is no joke when you have to live with it. She is realizing she has a will and she can exercise it. Soon, she’ll go on to other answers as her vocabulary grows.
Here are some strategies for coping with the frequent “nos.”
- Offer limited choices. Two choices is all she needs at this point.
- Counting may help an indecisive child. “When I get to 10 you choose or I will choose for you.”
- Offer the appearance of two choices. With either choice she does what you want her to do. “Do you want to put on your shoes or your coat first?”
- Teach other possible responses. “Maybe,” “Soon,” “No, thank you.”
As with behaviors that are inappropriate or unreasonable, you may have to require her to do what she is saying “no” to. Choose your battles carefully. Focus on the big issues and ignore the small ones or the ones you can’t win. Win the battles you choose. You can say something like, “I know you don’t like it, but this is the way is has to be.” If she doesn’t learn as a very young child that there are some things that she has no choice about, it is a very difficult or impossible lesson to teach in late childhood or early teen years.
Speech and Pacifiers
At about this time, your child is probably beginning to experiment with volume. She knows she can speak in three basic volumes; loud, normal, and whisper. But she may not yet be able to control when she shouts or whispers. Practice the different volumes with her and label them so she can begin to control her speech when you need to have her tone down.
If your child is still using a pacifier, this is the time to get rid of it. Sucking on a pacifier locks your child’s mouth in an unnatural position. Her facial muscles cannot develop and strengthen normally. Also, if she has a pacifier in her mouth, she is not practicing her speech as much as she should. You may have a few days of crying and tantrums over the loss of the pacifier, but she will adjust soon enough and forget that she ever wanted it.
By now, your daughter has probably identified herself as a girl. She probably prefers playing or spending time with mom, big sisters, grandma, and aunts. She still goes to dad for special cuddles, when she wants to play, or when she thinks she can get her way with him and not mom. She is making the necessary identification with her sex.
She will grow in height and weight at a slow, but steady rate the same as boys her age. Her fine motor skills, holding a pencil and writing, usually develop faster than her large muscle skills. Her running, jumping, and balancing, will tend to develop slightly slower than boys her age. Girls tend to read tone of voice and expression of feelings sooner and better than boys her age. These are generalities, remember each child is an individual and develops at his or her own pace.
Whether you have a boy or girl, your child will begin to identify with other children of the same sex. You will begin to see them play in ways that are more characteristic of their sex.
Readiness Signs for Toilet Training
- Can walk and run steadily.
- Urinates a fair amount at one time.
- Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.
- Has “dry” periods of at least three or four hours, which shows that her bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.
- Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.
- Can pull her pants up and down.
- Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper.
- Shows interest in others’ bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).
- Gives a physical or verbal sign when she’s having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.
- Demonstrates a desire for independence.
- Takes pride in her accomplishments.
- Isn’t resistant to learning to use the toilet.
- Is in a generally cooperative stage, not a negative or contrary one.
- Can follow simple instructions, such as “go get the toy.”
- Understands the value of putting things where they belong.
- Has words for urine and stool.
- Understands the physical signals that mean she has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until she has time to get to the potty.
Toilet Training for Girls
Girls tend to toilet train earlier than boys. Moms are the primary potty-trainers, so girls have the advantage of observing someone with the same equipment as theirs.
Because of the way girls are designed, you must teach her to wipe herself from front to back. This is especially true when she has a bowel movement. But it is best to make this the habit all the time. If stool comes into contact with her vagina, the bacteria in it could lead to infection.
If she is having trouble learning which direction to wipe, you may teach her to pat her vaginal area dry and only wipe poop from the back.
Bladder infections are not common, but are more frequent with girls who are potty-training. If she urinates more frequently than normal, says it hurts to urinate, or begins to have accidents after having been well trained, call her doctor to have her checked for a bladder infection.
Sharing is a social skill that is learned. It does not come naturally. Most twoyear olds are fiercely possessive of their toys. There are ways you can help your child be more generous and less aggressively possessive.
- Model sharing. You can say, “This is my cookie, but I will share it with you.”
- Point out other children who are sharing.
- Remove the object of the fight and direct the children to some other activity.
- When your child grabs a toy from another child, teach her to “trade” something else for the other to play with.
- Hide your child’s favorite toys when other kids come to play.
- Encourage activities children can play together. (Blocks, clay, coloring, or rolling, kicking or throwing a soft ball.)
- Praise your child whenever she shares.
You may be starting to think about a preschool for your daughter to attend. There are many considerations in choosing the best fit for your child. The most important goal in preschool is for your child to gain a love of learning. Whether you choose a school that strives for “school readiness” or one that is more “learning through play,” you want your child to enjoy going and learning. There really should be a good balance of structured learning including assignments and plenty of hands-on learning with developmentally appropriate play.
School readiness comes through having books, words, letters, and writing materials available throughout the day. Math and science are taught with objects, blocks, dominos, puzzles, and patterns. Music and art should be part of the teaching too. Play teaches the abilities to cooperate, negotiate, compromise, deal with disappointments, express needs verbally, and stir curiosity.
Ask friends to find the most reputable preschools. Consider the location, close to home or work. Visit the schools on your short list. Ask about schedules, fees, philosophy of childrearing, discipline, nutrition, and teacher/student ratio. Observe the class. Are the children happy, is the teacher friendly, encouraging, consistent? Ask for references and make calls to confirm what you observed.
For more detailed information on choosing a preschool, see: Great Schools
Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful for this child you have entrusted to me. I am blessed every day as I see her learning about her world. Help me to teach her about You and all You mean to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen