Skip to navigation menu Skip to content
Please click here to read our COVID-19 policies and resources before your visit or appointment. X


Toddler holding a magnifying glass to her eye

Testing the Limits

Annabel is 2. The wonderful time we have heard so much about is here. We are calling this stage the “terrific twos.” She is curious, active, independent and persistent. All of these are fantastic qualities. The challenge is that they are partnered with no impulse control or sense of danger. Annabel is testing her boundaries and living in the moment in a big way.

In the morning when it is time to get dressed, she has too many things to do. She tries to climb down off the changing table before she is dressed. Why bother with clothes? I have found letting her choose between a few outfits helps keep her engaged, and she ends up wearing something that is okay with both of us. Shoes are another story. At home she can be barefoot, but every time we go somewhere, she takes her shoes off in the car. She tosses them and proudly announces, “I took my shoes off!” If she forgets to take her shoes off while we are driving, as soon as I stop the car, it’s a race to see if Annabel can remove her shoes before Mommy gets to the door. This is the type of game that is amusing for 2-year-olds, but not so much for parents.

When Annabel was younger, there was a period of time when she was very interested in the dogs’ water bowl. We thought she had outgrown it, but with this recent surge of boundary testing her fascination has returned. Everything needs to go in the bowl. When I try to redirect her to play with her toys instead of the dogs’ water, she says, “Mommy, I need play in dogs’ water.” My response: patient redirection, clear limits, other opportunities for water play. Repeat.

Annabel has learned the versatility of the words, “my turn.” Sometimes “my turn” means “now” or “I’m tired of waiting.” The other day when we were at Ocean Breeze Waterpark, we had to wait in line for a slide. She tried to convince Robert to skip the line. “Daddy, upstairs, my turn,” she said. When we were at the playground, she was upset when another child took a turn on the swing that she was done using. In this case, “my turn” meant “once I touch it or play with it, it is always mine.” Have you heard of “The Toddler’s Creed” by Dr. Burton L. White? It sums up the mindset of a toddler perfectly.

The Toddler’s Creed

If I want it, it’s mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it is mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are MINE!
If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.


I am thrilled that my daughter is intelligent, inquisitive, fearless and independent, but after a busy morning, I need a nap to prepare for round two. I know this stage is part of healthy development, and it will not last forever. In the meantime, I will practice my deep breathing and try to enjoy the experience!

Happy parenting,


If you are the parent of a terrific 2-year-old, check out CHKD’s parenting resources or watch the webinar Great Expectations: Toddlers

Like this post?

Get parenting inspiration and encouragement delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for our once monthly email.

About Kate Hayes

About Kate  Hayes Kate Hayes lives in Virginia Beach, VA and is a first time parent to Annabel – born on July 22, 2015. Kate is a yoga and aerial fitness instructor. She especially enjoys teaching on the beach, and is certified in laughing yoga, and prenatal yoga. Kate and her husband, Robert, enjoy spending time with their daughter and their two dogs.