Your child at two years
People talk about the terrible twos but this is unfair. This age is no more terrible than any other (talk to parents of teenagers). Your child will be busy developing her self-awareness and exercising her will. You can't do that without making a few waves.
She'll be behaving increasingly like adults do - wanting to make demands on you, and becoming self-centred in the genuine belief that the world revolves around her. Along with this newly discovered sense of identity, while she won't ask to have her navel or tongue pierced she will be fiercely possessive about her things and negative about anything she doesn't want to do.
Temper tantrums become works of dramatic art, with screaming and sometimes biting and kicking. She may be angry, sad and happy again (all emotions felt intensely, of course) within a short space of time.
About one in five children of this age has at least one tantrum a day.
Aggression is also common from now until three - don't blame the television, it's human development and will be phased out when she's better equipped to express herself. Best not to be aggressive in return, eg don't bite back so she can see it hurts, it's just not a concept she can relate to.
- Sibling rivalry
If you insensitively choose this time to have another baby, she may be completely furious and insist it go back to the hospital straight away. Jealousy is normal for a child who is suddenly displaced as top small banana.
Do not expect her to do anything but hate the new baby and you may be pleasantly surprised. Do not leave them alone in a room together because your two year old's natural inclination is to torture her rival.
She is not evil or mean-spirited she's a poor little two-year-old whose heart is momentarily broken. Make a fuss of her, downplay the baby and leave cooing until after your two year old's in bed.
Along with emotions such as jealousy, comes fear of noises such as fireworks, and unfamiliar animals and objects.
- Bedtime battles
Bedtime may become a battle of wills because she has enough sense now to object to being shunted off to bed to sleep while everyone else is having a fine old time downstairs. This battle lasts until adulthood.
- Awareness of self and others
She'll have a short attention span but more complex thoughts. If she feels secure she will widen her social attachments to like other children and adults, and realise that although her mother goes away she will come back and exists even if she can't see her.
What's in her mouth?
She's getting a second set of molars at the back - and you'll be wondering if teething ever stops.
- Choices and routines
She finds it hard to make decisions and can seem paralysed by what's the best option (who isn't?).
She will also be attached to her routine; try dressing her before breakfast and she'll be most offended if that's not what you normally do.
She will be aware of rules and rehearse them out loud so you will see her saying "no" seriously to herself before doing something that's life threatening.
When she achieves something she will feel proud of herself, and she will try for longer to do things, like pedal a tricycle. That's not to say she won't hurl herself off it and howl in frustration if it's not going well.
Your child is learning by imitation, so be on your best behaviour. She will follow you around, sweeping with a broom (does anyone still do that?), picking up the paper and looking very serious. She can now remember things over two to three weeks.
- Toilet training
Now is the time for potty training but she will take the lead, announcing she has done a poo and asking to be cleaned up (not always - some children hate being cleaned). She will also pull down her pants.
Don't take this as a sign to throw her onto a big scary toilet and tell her to get on with it - gently gently is the preferred approach. If necessary lie to your mother-in-law if you feel under pressure. Bladder control comes later.
- Walking, running, jumping, dressing
She'll now be able to run well, walk up and down stairs one step at a time, and jump off steps. She may be able to ride a tricycle. She'll increasingly try to dress herself and will turn pages in a book one at a time.
- Playing with other children
She will start to enjoy playing alongside or increasingly with other children. Sharing is still unusual because children this age are too possessive and sharing is just not a concept they can embrace. But they will socially interact, in groups of two usually.
Sometimes play is friendly but it can be rough. Best to keep an eye on them and encourage the friendly bits.
- Imaginative play
She will start getting her toys to do things, like feed another toy or whack her. She starts to enjoy make believe play and you will hear her giving orders to her dolls and teddies. Sometimes she may sound as bossy as you do.
She will also like to wrap and unwrap parcels and do simple big jigsaws and paint on large pieces of paper.
She understands longer sentences and you in turn will understand more of what she says. You will still be her interpreter but her vocabulary is up to and may be more than 200 words (we hesitate to say this as this wasn't the case with all of our kids, so please don't worry).
She'll follow simple stories and enjoy them. Best of all she will start saying "Love Mummy".
A word on reading our development calendar
Milestones of development are not carved in granite but widely variable (see our behaviour/development Talk forum). It's not uncommon to have isolated pockets of late development, such as late walkers and talkers, and much of the individual differences between the development of babies and children is genetically programmed - so try and resist the temptation to be a competitive parent.
Some babies will be slower to develop in certain areas because they were born prematurely or because they are twins (or triplets). For more information on twins, triplets et al, see our multiple births Talk forum.
A minority of babies and children do have delays in development that may need specialist help. Doctors' textbooks tell them to take a parent's concerns about their child seriously. No health professional should ever trivialise a worry that you have about your child. If you are at all concerned, go to see your GP.
We are also obviously aware that some children have special needs. You can get advice from other parents in our special needs Talk forum. We have included some site recommendations that may be useful in our webguide but the list is by no means exhaustive and we would welcome other suggestions.