She knows what she wants!

She knows what she wants!
Towards the age of 2, your child makes an amazing discovery: she’s an individual person. She has ideas and preferences, and she wants you to know it!

Towards the age of 2, your child makes an amazing discovery: she’s an individual person. She has ideas and preferences, and she wants you to know it!

The intensity of the terrible-two phase varies from one child to the next. Olivier, father to 4 ½-year-old Mathilde and almost 3-year-old Mérédith, can attest to that. “Mathilde’s behaviour didn’t really change during this period, but her younger sister was a different story.” Virginie, her mother, agrees: “Between 18 and 30-months old, Mérédith contested almost everything we asked her: dressing, eating, getting ready for her bath, putting her toys away, going to sleep—everything was ‘No!’.”

Why such opposition? Neuropsychologist Miriam Beauchamp explains: “Between 18 and 36-months old, toddlers realize that they are separate individuals who are different from everyone else. To express their uniqueness, they need to decide things for themselves, make their preferences known and control their environments.” Your child wants to assert who she is, and the way she does that is to say no. When your toddler refuses to do something you ask, it’s not to make you angry. “It’s because what you’re asking prevents her from doing what she feels like doing,” says France Capuano, professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal’s Department of Education and Specialized Training.

However, even if your child has a burning need to decide, a 2-year-old still has limited abilities. She wants to do things, but she’s not always able to do them yet. This leads to frustration, and therefore, more tantrums. But it’s best not to do everything for her. This will precisely take away the control she so needs. Instead, encourage your child to do things herself, but be ready to lend her a hand if she needs it.

This is what Karine does with 2-year-old Charles-Philippe. “He wants to put his coat on all by himself, but he can’t connect the zipper slider, so I help him with that, then he zips up the rest.”

2-year-olds contest things to show that they’re individuals.
While your child is figuring out that she’s a unique individual, she’s also learning to live with others. Waiting her turn, sharing, listening to others and settling conflicts… all these skills don’t come easy for toddlers who are in the process of discovering that they can assert themselves and express their needs! All this just adds to their general frustration and may cause further tantrums. Patience is therefore key during this period. But look on the bright side: “This opposition means your child is developing well. She’s discovering that she’s unique and that’s wonderful,” says Miriam Beauchamp.