advice

the not-so-terrible twos:
your child at 24 months

Don't worry too much about the 'terrible twos'. Yes, they can be cheeky little monkeys at times, but every stage has good and bad behaviour. Your two-year-old will be developing their sense of self, and although that means more tears before bedtime, it also means they're becoming more inquisitive, more active and more fun to be around. All children develop at different rates, but at two years old you might expect these milestones.

child playing hiding their face with their cuddly toy

tackling the tantrums

Your little one may seem like a whirlwind of emotions. Watch as they go from screaming in anger to crying in sorrow to laughing like a drain, all over the course of five minutes. Their temper tantrums are a force to be reckoned with at this age, putting every Oscar-winner to shame. They'll throw themselves to the floor or kick out at whoever tries to stop their performance.

The best advice is to react calmly. You might be tempted to show them how kicking or biting hurts, but it's important to resist. Explain to them firmly that it hurts. Around one in five children have at least one tantrum a day: it often helps to take them out of the situation until they calm down.

a bigger vocabulary (and a new favourite word)

Plan plenty of pit stops in for feeds, changes and to check in with your little one. While you might want to have a rough plan of when you’re going to stop, your baby may well have other ideas, so give yourself plenty of time to make the trip.

Most two-year-olds have a vocabulary of 50 words, and can learn up to 200 over the course of the year. Development is different for every child, though: some are bit slower to pick up language, so there's no need to worry if your little one is still at the babbling stage.

At the start of the year most 24-month-olds can string together two words ("don't like", "give me") but as the year goes on they'll start to put together little sentences ("don't like that coat", "give me my toy"). Their new favourite word is "why?" and they'll ask it at every chance they get.

Sometimes they use it because they want you to explain something but don't know the words for how, where, when or what. Sometimes it's just because they enjoy asking you a question that gets a long answer. A good way to help them develop their language and reasoning skills is to flip the question back to them: "Why do you think the dog ate your sandwich?"

time to share

Your child still hasn't clicked that the world doesn't revolve around them, so they're going to be a little bit selfish. Their possessions become really important to them as their sense of self grows, and they're not going to be happy if you ask them to share their toys with another child. At play dates they're more likely to sit and play near other children than with them. If you do notice your child sharing a toy or a snack, it's a really big deal! Give them plenty of praise.

Unfortunately this selfish phase comes at a time when many families are getting ready to welcome baby number two. It's best not to leave them alone with their new sibling, as they can take it on themselves to fight off the new rival. Look at it from their perspective: they're probably heart-broken about being replaced as the most important person in the universe. So make sure you give them plenty of attention and save your biggest swoons over the new baby for when the two-year-old is asleep.

active and imaginative play

Playing with your two-year-old is great fun. They've started to use their imagination when they play with their toys, creating and acting out little scenarios. They can understand (and follow) basic instructions ("go and bring me your red truck") and are developing more of a memory: so they might remember where they've hidden your car keys. They might even make a game out of it.

Two-year-olds are very active. They love running, walking, jumping, riding trikes and climbing: so if they're still sleeping in a cot you may want to put pillows on the floor in case of daring midnight escapes. At this age, children love routine, so if you read them a story every night before bed, don't be surprised to see them run for the storybook as soon as they've got their PJs on.