Your Child from 22 to 24 Months: Taming Those Terrible Twos

As he approaches 2, your toddler begins testing his powers -- and your patience.

An Ever-Expanding Vocabulary

As your child nears her second birthday, she is rapidly becoming more independent. She's old enough to walk and eat without help, and to play a little on her own. You might even enjoy a few quiet moments as she puts her dolls to bed or cooks in her play kitchen, imitating the actions of the adults in her world.

Your child understands most of what you say and can follow two-step directions, such as, "Please go upstairs and get your shoes." It helps that he's starting to understand the meaning of prepositions like "under," "in," and "around." But while 2-year-olds can take in much of what you say, their understanding of the finer points is still shaky.

Like anyone learning a new language, "toddlers grasp nouns a lot faster than they grasp verbs," observes pediatrician Harvey Karp, MD, author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block (Bantam). That's partly because nouns are concrete, whereas verbs are constantly changing. For instance, your toddler might have a hard time deciding whether to use the word "run" or "ran" -- or he may say "runned."

From our readers: "It's really amazing to hear our 23-month-old daughter trying to mimic us. Just the other morning she climbed into bed and said, 'Hugs and kisses,' as she leaned over to shower me with lots of both. I say the very same thing to her everyday!"
Keri, Cary, North Carolina

The Big 5-0

While there is some similarity in how much 2-year-olds understand, toddlers vary wildly when it comes to the number of words they can say. Most toddlers have at least 50 words in their vocabulary, but some have as many as 200 words at their disposal, talk in simple sentences, and can even sing their ABCs.

No matter how many words she has under her belt, chances are it's enough to share her excitement as she explores the world. She may see her first caterpillar and tell you it's a "doggie," or she may think the moon is moving along and dancing with her and point so that you can watch it too. Your child's memory is also improving; if you're in the car and she sees the sign for the zoo, she'll get excited because she remembers the elephants and monkeys.

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