Cracking Toddler Code

Children aged two to three have a unique way of expressing themselves, often resulting in tears and misunderstanding. Peta Daniel talks to a child development expert for tips on how to crack your toddler’s communication code.

Sez Meredith is an early-years educator who has left the profession to stay at home with her child. Her speciality was two-to-three-year-olds. Although South African, she now lives in the UK with her young son and partner. Meredith explains that as your child develops and becomes better able to understand what is happening around them, they become more and more interested in navigating this interesting new world, and less patient with all the restrictions from grown-ups around them.

Little do they know that putting their fingers in the wall socket will lead to a nasty electrocution – so they simply can’t understand why you won’t let then touch the harmless-looking holes in the wall! This newly found interest, the ability to move around more independently (which is also pretty new) and the frustration of being held back all contribute to often-difficult toddlers, who simply wants to explore. Your toddler may be getting fast on their feet, but they still can’t outrun you. Every times they turn around you’re there!

They don’t realise that when you grab them under the armpits and whisk them away from the interesting brown splotch on the floor you were actually saving them from touching dog poop, or when you snatched their hand back from the shiny thing you were saving them from burning their fingers on a candle flame. Of course they’re going to wail, stomp and pout!


Toddlers go through many phases that are difficult for their parents, including:

  • Saying ‘no’ all the time to everything.
  • Suddenly preferring one parent over the other.
  • A sudden obsession with objects that aren’t meant to be toys; the dogs food for example; when a stack of brand new age-appropriate toys lie unused in the corner.
  • Hitting.
  • Throwing objects – like food.

All of these are perfectly natural and shouldn’t be taken seriously. “It’s very normal for children to idealise the parent they don’t see as often,” explains Sez. “We’ve had this from day one, with our son usually favouring daddy. Once you understand that it’s a developmental thing it becomes funny and you can laugh about it.”

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