Every Parent's Guide to the Lively & Challenging 24- to 36-Month-Old
This second groundbreaking volume in the acclaimed age-specific childcare series helps turn the "terrible twos" into a terrific, joyous experience for parents and their two-year-old children.
Your two-year-old is less dependent on your "teaching" and more in charge of his learning than ever before. While problem solving and mastery of skills will be his major agenda for this year, improving verbal, physical, and emotional skills make him seem more capable than he really is. There's a big difference between saying "I do it" and being able to do it!) In short, the need to establish his own identity by getting his way may prove more frustrating than adorable at times. Caregivers need to see his efforts as valuable experimentation not defiance and support this exciting growth.
Incorporating cutting-edge research about twenty-four- to thirty-six-month-old children, Dr. O'Brien highlights how the world looks and feels to them during this time of rapid development. With a delightful mix of the latest scientific findings and true-life stories, O'Brien demonstrates how to listen, observe, and relate to children in ways that enhance not only their growth but the entire family's as well.
- This remarkable series differs from others because
- it includes the incomparable wisdom and experience of actual parents
- it translates the newest research on the development of a young child's brain
- it provides guidance for dealing with toddler willpower by exploring two-year-olds' unparalleled burst in language and complex emotional growth
About the Author
Maureen O'Brien, Ph.D., a recognized expert in child development, is a research associate in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, a consultant to the Touchpoints Project at Boston Children's Hospital and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Bentley College. The mother of twins, she lives with her family in Canton, Massachusetts.
Read an Excerpt
What I'm Like
Your child is able to take the initiative in learning much more than before. The art of parenting lies in supporting her interests as they develop.
It's hard to believe how much a twenty-four-month-old has already learned about how the world works, what kinds of pleasure, support, and stimulation it can offer her and the many exciting ways she can interact with it. As Maggie and Richard Wolff sit down to dinner with six-year-old Justin and two-year-old Amy in her booster seat, they exchange a glance of relief mixed with pride. Finally, after all the months of milky spit-ups, interrupted sleep, teething dramas, and wordless wails, the Wolffs are starting to look like a functional family again four individuals with distinct personalities and increasingly effective ways of communicating their needs. Even mealtime seems on the verge of becoming an enriching family activity, rather than a rushed attempt to bolt down food while Amy tries to tip her high chair over or throws her food. As Amy announces, "Butter, pease," stretching out her hand as elegantly as a princess, Maggie dares to look ahead to dinnertimes filled with conversations about each family member's day, perhaps even ending with an offer from the kids to help clean up. She gives her daughter a smile. Look at her, Maggie thinks. She's practically a little girl already. Her hair's all the way down to her shoulders. She sits up straighter in her chair. Her gaze is just as direct and confident as Justin's!
"Let me help you butter that roll," Richard says to Amy, holding the butter dish in one hand and reaching for Amy's platewith the other.
Instantly, Amy grabs the edge of her plate. "No!" she yells. "My dish!"
Uh-oh. Maggie's heart sinks. That tone of voice is certainly familiar, and Maggie notes that Amy's hunger is what's really getting in the way of her patience. "Amy, let your father butter the roll for you," she says, hoping for the best. "He'll put plenty on, just like you want it."
"1 do it! Gimme!" Amy's face, scrunched up like a samurai warrior's, has turned bright red. She opens her mouth, and the entire family flinches in the face of her bloodcurdling scream. Her brother rolls his eyes. "Can I be excused?" he asks.
"Amy, let . . . me . . . have . . . the . . . plate." Richard tugs on the dish with each word. But his daughter pulls back. A moment later, the inevitable happens: the dish goes flying off the table, and the family dog pounces on the unexpected treat.
As Maggie and Richard resignedly clean up the mess, order Justin back to his seat, and try to salvage the rest of dinnertime, Maggie has to admit to her husband and herself that, "after all, Amy is only two."
However bright their daughter is, and however amazing her progress has been from dependent infant to active, independent toddler, she still has much learning and development ahead of her in all realms emotion, self-expression, social interaction, advanced thinking, and motor skills. The adults around her, naturally impressed by her advances so far, may assume that she comprehends and is capable of doing more than she really can. But as every parent learns, a two-year-old can say, "I do it," but that doesn't mean she can accomplish a particular action. She says, "Okay," when you tell her to put her shoes on, but she doesn't necessarily understand that you mean right now. She knows what she wants, but she is still often unable to express her desire acceptably in words.
In fact, the central dilemma for both child and parent in the third year springs largely from the normal unevenness of a two-year-olds mental, physical, and emotional development. Although a child this age is certainly making marvelous progress, she still has quite a short attention span, a limited ability to postpone gratification and to plan for the future, and a need for time and patience when learning to dress herself, follow daily routines, share with others, and express her feelings. She still must rely on her caregivers' emotional, educational, and practical support to ease her into early childhood as she becomes ready, and not before. Many of the difficulties that so commonly occur during this year conflicts that can lead to furious impatience on the parents' part and loss of control (and even tantrums) on the child's part are a result of this mismatch between a parent's or child's expectations and the child's abilities.
Fortunately, the third year of life is a time of profound growth in just those areas that can seem so defeating right around her second birthday. Last year you were able to encourage and applaud your child's very clear triumphs in learning to walk and to say her first words. This year her deepening awareness and refinement of skills may not be as easy to observe, but these advances will improve all of your lives in very important ways. At age one, her one- or two-word utterances frequently left you fishing for their meaning; this year she will learn to express, in increasingly varied sentences, more of what she thinks and feels. At age one, she could sit at the dinner table (in a high chair or booster seat) but did not fully participate in the ritual of the meal. By the end of this year, she will be able to listen to her brother's tales about his school day and perhaps chime in with a simple story of her own ("I went to the zoo. There was giraffes!"). The first, rather awkward play dates of her second year may progress toward budding friendships in her third. And of course, last year's early attempts to establish who she is will lead to this year's full-blown tests of the limits of acceptable behavior and the power of her individual will. Your two-year-olds progress, in other words, will be more a matter of depth than breadth...
Watch Me Grow: I'm Two. Copyright © by Maureen O'Brien, Ph.D.. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.