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The Power of Friends


At 2, most toddlers have learned to speak well enough that parents can begin to teach them some phrases that will help them express their feelings. Then they won't have to hit or grab as much, says Bostick.

Still, it's a good idea to limit playdates to about an hour and vary the activities so the kids can wind down by coloring or reading a book. That can prevent many meltdowns.

Also, be explicit when you explain to your toddler how to get along with her friends. Rather than tell her to "share," Wallace suggests, have her say "Done" when she's finished with a toy so that her friend can play with it. And tell her friend to do the same: "Children don't mind giving up something as much when they know they'll get another turn."

It's smart to stick around to smooth out any altercations. "If my son and his friends are having trouble sharing a toy, the closest parent steps in and uses a timer: Each kid takes a turn for two minutes," says Carolyn Casey of Brooklyn, NY. If that doesn't work, she says, the best option is often to take away the offending toy.