Toddlers are endlessly fascinating little creatures. One minute they're calmly and rationally offering to share their toy with a friend; the next, they're hoarding every available plaything in the corner and screaming like a demon at any kid who comes within two feet of them. Toddler behavior can be perplexing, to say the least, but when you have a better idea about the biology behind it, those quirks start to make more sense. So what are some things that are happening in your toddler's brain?
"Parents need to understand what kids don't understand," Dr. Laura A. Jana, pediatrician and award winning author of The Toddler Brain: Nurture the Skills Today That Will Shape Your Child's Tomorrow, tells Romper.
It's all about having realistic expectations regarding what your toddler is capable of based on her level of cognitive and emotional development, and knowing that some parts of her brain — which relate to different types of skills — grow and mature at correspondingly different rates. Jana uses the following example to illustrate how moms and dads sometimes don't quite get it: A parent wouldn't yell at a 2-year-old for not knowing how to tie his shoes, because no one expects a 2-year-old to know how to tie his shoes. A parent might yell at a 2-year-old for biting his friend, however, thinking that he should know better — but in reality, he doesn't. Your 2-year-old doesn't know that biting is wrong, just like he doesn't know how to tie a bow.
Once you know what's really happening in your little one's head, it makes responding to behavior that might have baffled you otherwise that much easier. And just because we're talking about science doesn't mean you need a degree in biology to wrap your own head around this stuff: In fact, there are some simple parallels that can be drawn between your toddler's brain and other things in life that are way less mystifying.