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What to Expect When Raising a Two Year Old: The Best and the Worst

So two year olds are their own breed, right?

Raising a two year old can be mentally (and physically) exhausting. I mean, they didn’t get coined the “terrible twos” for nothing.

But humor me for just a second. Two year olds, though frustrating and crazy and difficult, can be pretty awesome too.

I want this post to help you to see the light at the end of the dark, tantrum-filled tunnel. Because 2 year olds can be the sweetest, and they can help us look at life through rose-colored glasses.

I spoke with some other moms who gave me their input. And this is the best and the worst about parenting 2 year olds.

Let’s get the worst out of the way. If your child will soon be turning two, this is what you can expect.

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The most difficult aspects of raising a two year old

raising a two year old

#4- Two year olds struggle with expressing themselves

Two year olds are smart. But sometimes, they don’t have the vocabulary necessary to express their needs or their wants. I always feel horrible when I don’t understand my 2 year old, because it makes her very frustrated.

This lack of understanding can then lead to high frustration levels, which can lead to other problems like tantrums.

Read: How To Handle Toddler Tantrums

My least favorite thing about 2 year olds is their inability to communicate when they are sick. While in the car, my toddler was whining but couldn’t tell me why he was upset. All he kept saying was “car stop mama”. At least, that’s all I could get from it. He was feeling sick and ended up vomiting. I felt horrible. He really tried to tell me what he wanted but couldn’t communicate that he was nauseous. Marissa Simpli Sanders

Just the other day, my daughter was asking for a snack. Seems like a reasonable request, right? I said, “Sure. Say ‘please’ and I’ll give you a snack.” She looked at me again and said, “Snack.” I repeated my earlier statement and her response to still not receiving a snack was, “Snack now, Mommy!” in a louder voice. I got down to eye level and said, “Yes, as soon as you say ‘please’.” That was the last straw with her. She proceeded to scream “snack” as loudly as she could, take her little plastic chair from beside us, and throw it across the room.

To me, that was a totally unreasonable thing to do in response to not receiving a snack. But to her, she’s not at the point where she can understand that big emotion of frustration so throwing a chair was a completely reasonable thing to do to get the point across that she really wanted a snack. (Like, really badly.) Brandi at Littles and Life

#3- Two year olds are prone to power struggles and tantrums

Oh the power struggles. Toddlers want control. Of everything. And when they don’t get their way, watch out! The best thing that you can do it to organize your home in a way that allows your toddler to do things by herself.

However, we moms are busy. There are so many times when I just don’t have the time to let my toddler pick her outfit. Or rinse out her bowl. Or do the many other things that she must do during the day.

Pair the power struggles with potty training and picky eating and you’ll probably be ready for some wine by 5pm. Maybe sooner.

My daughter has started sliding off of her chair, the bed, etc whenever she wants my attention, saying “me fallin’”. She’s totally in control, I’m just along for the ride.

My least favorite thing about raising a 2 year old is that they are just old enough to get into things and cause trouble, but not quite old enough to reason with.  For example, when our daughter eats, she LOVES throwing food.  It doesn’t matter what you say to her, or in what tone – she thinks it’s hilarious and there is absolutely no reasoning with her. Eric at Cynical Parent

I HATE the power struggle I have with my 2 year old. One day this scenario began to be a regular occurrence…he needed to get his coat on so I would hold it out but he would pout and refuse to put it on. When I would give up and get something else ready, he would scream bloody murder and the whole situation would repeat. That is until I decided we would leave the house with coat in hand and he could decide whether or not he wanted to wear it. Kariann at  Designed Bilingually

#2- Two year olds are SO particular

Think about this: if any other age group acted the way that toddlers acted, it would probably merit admittance into the insane asylum.

If you haven’t checked out this video If Adults Acted Like Toddlers from Kristina Kuzmic, do it. Now. It shows what I’m talking about perfectly. 

My toddler can’t eat things that are “cracked” and she always wants whoever is not there to put on her clothes or brush her teeth.

The worst thing about 2 year olds? How freaking particular they are. Making a sandwich used to be easy. Then I had a two year old. I never knew there were so many ways to cut a sandwich wrong. Triangles, halves, with or without crust, SHAPES and ANIMALS for goodness sakes. And God forbid she ever wants it the same way two days in a row! Hell hath no fury like a toddler whose sandwich was cut wrong… Christine from The Salty Mamas

I tried to get her to get her coat and boots on to leave and she kept grabbing things and asking to take them.  “Take this to grandma’s?” After about 20 no’s, I got her to the stairs. She scooted her butt down the stairs slowly then half way down she pulled two tiny plastic bears from behind her back as if from nowhere. “Take the bears to grandma’s house?” NO! Niki from Toots Mom Is Tired

My least favorite thing: Throwing a fit at the drop of a hat, and over the most insignificant things!  Yesterday, for example, my toddler melted down over (among others): A string on her banana; She wanted a red figgy, not the blue figgy; and I wouldn’t let her play outside in the 20 degree, rainy weather.  Help. Shawna at Mish Mash Mommy

#1- Two year olds crave independence

I hear the phrase “ME DO IT” about 364 times a day. And I just have to walk away, or into the pantry for some chocolate.

The best is when your child insists on doing something that is absolutely impossible for her to do. Like the time that my daughter insisted on swimming by herself. I know you’ll be shocked to hear that she can’t swim. Yeah, fun times.

See: Organize your home with your child in mind to maximize independence

My least favorite thing about age two would have to be their need to be independent! I feel like I am constantly trying to hold on before they get away. I’ll never forget when I took my son to the park and he refused to let me help him to anything, including help him find a bathroom. He said “mama I can do it alone”, as I watched him rip his pants down and pee all over the slide. It was a wonderful thing to see him potty trained but horrifying to see the other parents expressions. Not to mention we had nothing to rinse the slide off with so my only option was to grab him and run he heck outta there!! Rosie from This Mom Life by Rosie

The best about raising a two year old

Okay, so now that you know what makes two year olds challenging, let’s be reminded that they are also really, really awesome.

Are you raising a two year old and wondering if your toddler is crazy or absolutely normal? Two year olds are definitely challenging, but despite the fact that they are "terrible" two year olds, they are also really fun. Click to read the countdown: the top 4 best and worst characteristics of a two year old.

#4- Two year olds are learning at an impressive rate

A 2 year old’s vocabulary is exploding, and they are learning how to use words to be funny, sweet and sassy.

My 2 year old currently adds “mister” to the end of everyone’s name (daddy mister, mommy mister), she told my husband that she’ll love him “next week” and she even cracks jokes and laughs at herself.

My favorite thing about having a 2 year old is watching their own personality develop.  My daughter will give hugs and kisses without being asked, crack a joke without realizing she’s being funny and has recently started saying “I’m beautiful” every time she gets dressed.  When I agree with her, she then says “Mama, you beautiful too.” It’s the absolute sweetest thing in the world and gets me every time! Jess at Messy and Mine

My favorite thing: She learns sooo quickly, and comes up with something new every day! Last week, we were playing, and she just randomly yelled, “That’s incredible!”  First time she’s said that word, and it was just adorable!  Of course, then she proceeded to repeat it 2473 times throughout the day.  🙂 Still cute. Shawna at Mish Mash Mommy

Related: Activities That Will Keep Your Toddler Busy And Out Of Trouble

#3- Two year olds are super adorable and sweet

Two year olds are so super adorable because they don’t get embarrassed. They dance like no one’s watching. They can do the simplest thing and it will just be so stinkin’ cute. They say what’s on their mind and love fiercely.

There is nothing better than the first unsolicited “I love you”.

My favorite thing about age 2 is that, for this short time, not only are they your world but you are theirs. They believe you can do anything, and your attention is everything. When my daughter runs up to give kisses out of nowhere, or when I see her eyes light up at the idea of playing together, that makes everything worth it and more. Maya at Wholesome Yum

The best thing? They can make you forget in an instant how incredibly crazy they make you because they are genetically engineered to be at maximum adorableness during this phase. One minute my two year old can be making me research toddler boarding schools and the next I’m in physical pain looking at her because of how cute she is. And how she is worth every moment of insanity she causes. Christine at The Salty Mamas

#2- Two year olds say the funniest things

My toddler doesn’t like to be called anything other than her full name. If I call her love bug, sweetheart, or anything else, she tells me “look at my eyes. Me AMELIA!”

I also remember when my oldest spilled her pears on her chair. Without missing a beat she said “and there were three little pears, sitting on chairs”. If you’ve ever read Goodnight, Moon (like 5,936 times like I have) that line is probably forever burned into your brain.

The candidness is also my favorite thing because it leads to those sweet little moments that happen that just make you smile and think, at least I’m doing something right. Lately my daughter is all about chatting with me during her should be nap time.  Usually while I’m rocking her I will say “ok, it’s nap time” and she will candidly prop herself up on my chest, fold her arms and say “no mama, talk” and proceed to ask me a million questions.  It’s at that very moment, when I see the most adorable double chin smiling at me (all while refusing to nap) that I think there is nothing that I would rather do.  There may very well be a day when she doesn’t want to talk to me – so I will never pass up that opportunity.  Kristen from Entirely Kristen

#1- Two year olds get excited about everything

What I want to know is not why do they get excited about everything, but why do we stop being excited about everything? We can definitely learn a thing or two from our toddlers about how to stop and smell the roses once and a while.

My favorite thing about a 2-year-old is their insatiable curiosity! They take delight in the things we take for granted every day. I remember when my daughter was going through a phase where she was obsessed with picking flowers. Whenever we were outside playing or taking a walk, she couldn’t let a moment go by without bending over to collect dandelions. The beautiful thing is, we see those flowers as unwanted weeds, but they see them as something worth keeping.  Shaylynn at Purposeful Mothering

My favorite thing about age two is how much that age gets excited about things. One of my favorite recent memories is when we were about to load into my car in the driveway, the garbage truck drove by and my son got to watch all the action up close. He was so excited to see the arm of the truck grab our trash can and dump it. It made his whole day. Julie at Fab Working Mom Life

My favorite thing about age two is the curiosity and exuberance about the world. Everything is exciting! I love watching my daughter learn something new every day, and there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t say something that both blows my mind and cracks me up. A few weeks ago, we were reading at bedtime and she pointed to her nose, like the character in the book did. When she felt two nostrils, she shouted, “Mom! I have two noses!” Vicki at Babies To Bookworms

What do you love and loathe about age 2?

Are you raising a two year old and wondering if your toddler is crazy or absolutely normal? Two year olds are definitely challenging, but despite the fact that they are "terrible" two year olds, they are also really fun. Click to read the countdown: the top 4 best and worst characteristics of a two year old.


characteristics of a two year old


Thursday 25th of July 2019

This was great. It’s not just about the positive but also validating that some of the “crazy” we see is NORMAL! My daughter is all of the worst 1-4 but then also all of the best 1-4. But she’s just being 2! Thanks for this


Thursday 25th of July 2019

Thanks, Tracee! You are so right, it's all about knowing that these crazy phases are normal. Two year olds are definitely unique and difficult, but super fun too!

What Exactly is so TERRIBLE About Two? – The Salty Mamas

Friday 25th of January 2019

[…] Related Post: What To Expect When Raising a Two Year Old […]


Saturday 24th of March 2018

This is so true. I love my two year old. He can be so sweet and he is growing so fast. But he does drive me crazy so much of the time. Thanks for the post!


Saturday 24th of March 2018

I'm so glad you liked it! My motivation for writing the post was to help moms see the positive side of toddlers, because sometimes it's hard to remember that when they are so draining!


Wednesday 31st of January 2018

Ohhhhh, two years old. There is nothing sweeter- or saltier, for that matter!- than a toddler living through the terrible twos. Thank goodness they are cute!


Thursday 1st of March 2018

Thank goodness is right!!