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Learning Guide 28 - 32 MonthsUpdated 5 months ago

By Olynda Smith, AMS Certified Montessori Primary teacher


The terrific twos 

How are the terrific twos going at your house?  While two year olds can be challenging for adults, this is an exciting time of life and it doesn’t have to be marked by battles of wills.  

Two year olds can be busy, demanding and have an agenda that is all their own.  They are also beginning to learn to express themselves and what they lack in clarity they often try to make up in force. It can be a tricky time. It can also be a wonderful opportunity to help your child see and feel that you are on their side. As you support their growing independence you also minimize conflict with your toddler.  


Children this age love doing things by themselves. Even things they haven’t quite gotten the skill to actually do yet! It takes skill, patience and foresight to support children while they develop independence and new skills. It is never convenient and supporting them often demands new skills from us as parents and caretakers.  

The time you put in during this phase will strengthen the bond of trust between you and your child, help your child gain confidence and decrease power struggles. In many ways you are pre-paying for time you will get back later, when your three year old knows how to put on their own shoes, your four year old can set the table and your five year old can happily make their own snack.

Here are a few things to consider while you are supporting your child in their increasing independence.

Allow them to try

Respond to their interest in doing things themselves with encouragement. Allow them to try on their own as long as they wish with no interference from an adult or older sibling. Let them know you are there if they need help, and fade into the background. It may be hard not to “help” by giving them pointers, or by doing some part for them.  It may also be hard to not communicate impatience or frustration with their process. See if you can make it a practice to breathe and silently admire their attempts until they ask for help. If they are getting frustrated, do offer help. But try not to interfere unless they are ready for help. 

When giving help, attempt to give them the least amount of help possible.  

  • Look for where they are having trouble and offer guidance on just that part.


  • If you have time, model it for them. Then invite them to try again.  
  • Let them do everything they can on their own.  Maybe you put the tab of the zipper in the zipper of their coat, but then encourage them to zip up themselves.  



Everything takes longer with a toddler. When you expect that putting on shoes will take 15 minutes you can give your child the space to experiment and do their best. Budget lots of time for transition moments. Worst case scenario you show up early for something! The amount of time you need will be a moving target. Keep observing and you’ll know roughly how long your child will need.  

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