The Two-Year-Old: A Traditional Perspective

Let’s hop into looking at the two-year-old from a traditional perspective.  Again, my favorite resource on this topic is the book, “Your Two-Year-Old” for a traditional look at the two-year-old.

So, what can you expect from a two-year-old?

  • Tends to be much easier to live with than the eighteen-month old; motor abilities are stronger and less a source of frustration
  • Emotionally calmer, happy more of the time than previously
  • Affectionate
  • Developing speech also makes life easier
  • Likes to run little errands around the house
  • Typically likes to watch all the household activities and take part in them
  • Often a typical time for potty training (closer to two and a half)
  • Likes repetition and rhythm to his day
  • Typically eats one good meal
  • Not a good deal of interaction in a “Playgroup” situation (and you all  know how I feel about social stuff for little people under four and a half, if you are new here and don’t know, you can search for the post about social experiences for the four-year-old!  :))
  • How they feel toward younger siblings really varies from kind and protective to jealous.  Never, ever leave a baby alone unattended with a two or two and a half year old.  🙂
  • They can run without falling now, walk up and stairs alone two feet to a step, but they tend to use their knee and foot together in walking, both arms out if you ask for one arm, all fingers out if you ask for one finger or one finger on both hands if you ask for one finger,
  • Vision is also dependent upon touch and manipulation of the object the child is looking at; can look at moving objects in space quite well
  • Lots of impulses, short attention span, touches and tastes everything

Two And A Half

  • Often stubborn and aggressive in that the two and a half year old wants what they want when they want it. 
  • Tense, explosive, rigid, bossy, demanding – Carrie’s note:  but this is because they feel UNSURE and INSECURE, not because they feel confident! 
  • Not a good age for making choices, likes to choose the opposite!  The authors write in “Your Two-Year-Old”;  “Thus, the simple choice between chocolate or vanilla cookies may ruin an excursion to the store.  Possibly, it is better that he stay at home so that this kind of problem, so difficult to solve, will not arise.”  
  • Demands “sameness” ; sometimes has rituals around things and then will have a temper tantrum if the ritual for dressing or eating or whatever doesn’t go how they plan
  • Time is seen by the two-and-a-half year old as a sequence of events…The “Your Two-Year-Old”  book mentions that if Daddy comes home from work early one day, your two and a half year old will still expect dinner after Daddy gets home, because that is what normally happens.
  • Lots of tensional outlets – thumb sucking, increased nursing, stuttering, screaming, temper tantrums
  • The age of “I Want!”  “Me do!” and “NO!”
  • The age of parental preferences; only Mommy can do something or only Daddy can do something. My husband and I used to call this PPW – short for Preferred Parent of the Week. 
  • Frequently fatigues, especially as headed toward age three; whining starts to come up
  • Things really do frustrate them, and to them the frustrations they are experiencing are very, very real! 
  • Carrie’s note – there are fun things about this age, everything is new, their vocabulary is exploding, they are interested in helping and being a part of everything. 
  • In a group social setting, possessions are part of himself or herself, so you hear “Mine!” a lot.  Things are more important than people, this is NORMAL.  Also, cannot really take turns yet. 
  • Improved motor skills – can walk on tiptoes, can jump with two feet, will try to stand on one foot, can speed up and slow down and go around things and arms and legs and fingers are more differentiated now.
  • Will start to imitate adult behaviors – caring for a baby, etc.
  • Sensory play – mud. water, sand – are well-liked and needed!
  • Boys overall, have more difficulties adjusting to a group setting, more tensional outlets, more quarrels about possessions, speech may not come in as much as the girls speech until around thirty months


Many blessings,


12 thoughts on “The Two-Year-Old: A Traditional Perspective

  1. So glad you are writing on this age- it is in my near future!
    By the way, thank you for your consistently insightful posts, I really enjoy checking in and reading your thoughts, even when the subject matter doesn’t directly relate to me. Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for your post-I needed to hear that my screaming, intense-dare I say defiant-2 1/2 year old was normal. I guess I am still wondering how to respond to him. I hate to admit but sometimes it is embarrassing when family is around or we are doing errands, etc…and he starts yelling no when I ask him something, or runs away from me when I go to him… In those moments, I have no idea how to respond…Any suggestions you have would be oh so appreciated in this really challenging time…

    PS: He truly is the funniest character-I MUST end with the positive..

  3. As a mom who has has a two year old twice now and is on the verge of having one again, I have to say this is such a valuable post, Carrie.

    I have Louise Bates Ames books now, based on your recommendations, and wish I had read them and more on this age/stage before my first. I think things might have gone smoother for us if I had some more realistic expectations and knew better what to expect.

    I have I’m going to share this one with my readers, if you don’t mind.

    Have a great weekend!

    • HI Kara!! Share anything you like on this site to help other mothers!
      Thanks so much
      PS I have sooooo many friends who love Simple Kids! You could have a career going here!! 🙂

  4. Suzin, as a mama to a two year old, I can say that all of Carrie’s posts on gentle parenting / gentle discipline, anger in parenting, and on the two year old will give you lots of inspiration for how to deal well with your two year old son.

  5. In case any new parents are reading this and are scared by the challenges two-year-olds present, I just want to say — I love this age SO MUCH!! Of course there are challenges, but I am delighted by my two-year-old son EVERY day — literally every day. We are extended nursers, and nursing your still-a-baby-two-year-old can go a long way toward soothing your child’s frustration. As the article pointed out, many frustrations arise because the child is unsure. Nursing (or cuddling if you’re not still nursing) is one of the most ‘sure’ things in their life.

  6. Pingback: Apple Picks | The Picky Apple

  7. Pingback: This Will Keep You Busy: Links By Age « The Parenting Passageway

  8. Pingback: Joyful July! | The Parenting Passageway

Leave a Reply to Katie Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.