Most people think two-year-olds have it so easy. They are probably at the best time in their lives when they have the attention of everyone, not having to worry about doing or being anything. They just have to wake up, flutter about a bit, and they are already the center of attention.
While this is true to an extent, two-year-olds also have it tough in a way. At this age, your toddler is starting to grasp their environment in a different and more enhanced way than when they were 1, and this can be a bit terrifying. They are starting to build personalities and learn how to cope on their own, but it’s not so easy when they don’t have all the words they need to express themselves. There’s so much they want to say, but they don’t know how and this can often “flip some switches” and cause them to lash out.
Expectation VS Reality
At this point, most first-time parents would become frustrated by their children’s tactics. You’d wonder how something so perfect and adorable that pulls at the tightest strings of your heart in one second can drive you nuts in another. No one can expect toddlers to know the best time to throw tantrums and mood fits, and you’ve just got to deal with it whenever and wherever it comes, which can be really exhausting.
For parents who have dealt with two-year-olds before, having another won’t usually be so tasking. At that point, they’ve learned the dynamics of the growth process and they know what to expect. However, it’s often a scary reality for first-time parents when their bundle of joy is going through this not-so-joyful phase. Most parents just want their kids to grow into happy and level-headed individuals, resilient minds who can hold their own in a world that’s not always going to be on their side.
Parents want their kids to turn out to be kind, cheerful, patient, caring, easygoing, and a host of other positive qualities, which two-year-olds might just end up channeling the direct opposites. This would usually terrify some parents into “upping their game,” often by enforcing a new set of ground rules of how these kids should behave, sit, and forcefully teaching them “how to be nice.” While these actions come from the most well-intentioned place in a parent’s heart, they often mess with the child’s growth process in a way that’s not easily reversible. 
The tantrums are part of the process
Children can’t be all perfect at once. While infantry is the best stage to expose a child to good values and morals, this is mostly all you’ve got to do: expose them to it. Forcing a child to be a certain kind of person at such a tender age would usually not breed a genuinely kind individual.
Toddlers should be allowed to cry when they need to vent some pent-up emotions. They can spit, toss up their breakfast all over their shoes, or pee on the front door because they couldn’t hold it anymore. They can still throw baby tantrums in the middle of the night because they are afraid of something they can’t quite say. They are not as respectful as we would want them to be yet, neither are they that successful at school or sports work. Overachieving parents can become disappointed and bear down too heavily on these little children. They believe that anything less is over-indulgence and would breed spoiled, bratty individuals.
In reality, your kids just want to go through the motions of toddlerhood in a safe and secure environment. They end up being irrational and poorly-adjusted as older kids if they are not allowed to build their personalities from a tender age.
What you CAN do for your kids is to provide a safe and secure environment where they can blossom into responsible and confident individuals. Hug them when they cry, kiss them when they are scared, and gently caution them when they are out of line. Set examples that are easy to follow. If you want your child to be kind, always make sure they are watching when you hand out food or cash to someone who needs it. They are allowed to “not be great” at school and sports right away, but be gentle on them and offer some help. Don’t make them feel like failures at the age of two or three.
Instead of smothering the needs of your child and forcing them to develop under a sort of “iron hand,” give them a chance to figure things out while still letting them know that you are there for them whenever they need you. This way, you’d be giving their confidence a chance to bloom rather than sabotage it. You’d be building a relationship with your child on the foundation of mutual trust and understanding, one they’ll be grateful for as they grow older and wiser. 
How to properly interact with toddlers
Watching your child grow into a confident, well-adjusted individual who is empathetic to the needs of others and can hold their own out there is simply golden. It means you’ve done a great job as a parent and the world owes you for one more responsible individual to be grateful for.
Well, it doesn’t happen by treating them like rude individuals who need to be straightened out when they throw little tantrums. Don’t listen to what other people would say about you. When your child begins to cry and fuss in a public place, most people would stare with looks that seem to say, “See what overindulgence has caused.” Paying attention to such judgment is not in the best interest of your child.
According to child development psychologist, Tovah P. Klein, in her book, How Toddlers Thrive: What Parents Can Do Today for Children Ages 2–5 to Plant the Seeds of Lifelong Success, there are six key ways parents can interact with their toddlers to raise confident individuals.
- When you give them a chance to talk, listen to them. Talk with them instead of to them.
- Put up an attitude that reassures them of safety and security.
- Give them the space to try new things on their own, and if they fail, encourage them to try again.
- Let them play, explore, and come to you with questions about the things they discover.
- Children are all different and have specific needs. Pay attention to the details and learn what each child needs at different stages.
- Be patient and gentle when teaching them to obey boundaries and limits. 
These may seem too basic and simple, but that’s all the energy you need with the emotional development of little children. Treating them gently and with kindness is the best way to reassure them of your love and support. That’s all they really want.
- “How to Discipline a 2-Year-Old Child.” Healthline. Karen Richardson Gill, MD, FAAP. April 9, 2019.
- “Your 2-Year-Old.” New York Times. Meghan MacLean Weir, M.D. April 20, 2020
- “2-year-olds aren’t terrible—they’re just learning how to be human.” Motherly. Dr. Tovah Klein.