Diplomat, interpreter, stylist, shepherd…and sometimes Danica Patrick?! Yup. Master these six who-knew jobs, and life with your toddler will be easier and more rewarding.
Orientation: While communication skills really take off between 18 months and 3 years, that doesn't necessarily make a 2-year-old easy to understand. Toddlers tend to get, er, uptight when you can't figure out what they're saying. Hence the need to hone your foreign-language translation skills. (Does “nana” mean “I want a banana” or “Call Nana”?)
Overheard at the Watercooler: My son once asked me, very seriously, “Where does love go?” Wow. I tried to concoct a response, and as I rambled, he got more upset. Finally, my daughter stepped in: “He's asking, ‘Where is Lava Girl?’” That's his action-figure toy. Oh.
Job Description: To help you understand each other better, keep your phrases short and repeat yourself often. Watch your child's gestures and tone of voice—especially important when he's frustrated. Even if you have no idea what he's yelling about, show him you understand he's angry. Give names to his emotions, by saying things like “You seem upset,” suggests Carol Weitzman, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. When you give him the words, he can label the scary feeling himself and internalize the word for next time. You'll also need to trot out your interpreting talents whenever your diction-challenged little kid tries to talk to a civilian.