I love two year olds. I always have. While most people think of the terrible twos, I always thought of it as the terrific twos.
[Kari and Arden, pictured at left]
I did licensed home day care for about five years when we lived in Florida. It enabled me to stay home with my little ones and earn some money. My favorite year or two of doing this was when I had Kari and two other little girls that were two years old and then the following year too. I had a few other kids come and go, but these three with the ones that I had five days a week, nine hours a day.
I loved it, and it was sweet seeing the relationships grow between the girls.
This all came flooding back to me this week when my niece, her husband their and two year old daughter came for Thanksgiving. Kylee just turned two in October and she was an absolute delight.
I think she is probably genetically good natured, but that by itself would not account for the way she charmed all of us. Her mom and dad gently corrected her and re-directed her when she needed it. She played by herself really well and also was very gentle with our dog. She had us all laughing a lot of the time with her concern for the two dogs. At one point she took out every single dog toy and toy by toy brought each one to our dog and laid it in front of her. She was so proud to be able to help the dog in that way.
It got me thinking about what makes a two year old enjoyble rather than terrible. I think the main thing is consistency. When Kylee tried to do something she shouldn't, such as sitting on a basket, her mom told her not to and had her sit on a little chair or the floor. When Kylee tried to sit on the basket again, her mom quietly told her no, and directed her to sit on the floor. After 2-3 times, Kylee did not try to sit on the basket anymore. If her mom had looked the other way and allowed her to sit on the basket just one time, then all the times of saying no would have been for naught.
I read an article one time that said that most kids are like little gamblers. They can lose 99 times, but if they win just once, they think they have beaten the "house." I believe it. Parents need to be consistent with discipline 100 times out of 100 or kids think they have won and will keep trying to get away with something else. But, if you are consistent, and they know that, after trying a couple of times, they will generally quit trying. And this makes a two year old very fun to be around.
They are enthusiastic, will try anything, seem to be made of rubber they way they tumble and trip around. They are little mimics who soak up and learn just about anything. They sing and dance and laugh and are generally fearless. I love to watch their faces because you can read just about every human emotion in them. You can see fear and worry, joy and wonder. We went to Panera and there was a little child hollering in their high chair. Kylee was so worried and you could see she wanted to go over and comfort the crying child. You could see the compassion and concern on her face.
I know all children are not as delightful as Kylee, and I have parented children that were not as compliant--but even my hardest children were fun as two year olds. I had to be consistent, but watching them develop their imagination and their confidence was really a great experience.
I think we should embrace two year olds--they are a lot like us, before we develop negative self-confidence or embarrassment issues.
The world is new and exciting every morning when you have a two year old. Their wonder is infectious. I love it!
Photos, top to bottom--some of my kids at two years old: Kari and friend Arden; Cris, Kari, Dusty