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Two-year-olds often get a bad reputation for being temperamental, emotional, defiantly independent, and challenging. They are also hilarious, fun, lovable, and adorable. It’s an incredible balance.

This age was one of my favorite stages of parenting. A 2-year-old can attract an audience, captivate them, and take charge of a room with their entertaining antics in no time. Their persuasive presence can make everyone’s hearts around them melt, laugh, and be overcome with joy. This joy can ripple forward to continue to bring hope and happiness to others. It’s this overwhelming joy that is so radiant, contagious, good-hearted, and vibrantly full of life.

Two-year-olds are bright sparks full of energy and light in this too often dismal and depressing world.

I was out walking with my neighbor and her 2-year-old the other day and witnessed her daughter’s joyfulness as she excitedly smiled and said hi to every neighbor who passed by. I reminisced how my own children had been the same at this age, and I missed those happy days together.

My children are now teenagers and are not as joyful as they once were at that age . . .  nor am I. We have certainly had to navigate through some tough stuff since those whimsical toddler days. I miss the days when they were little when we would laugh together, and hand-in-hand, we would run, play, and sing.

I got to thinking about how we can get back to loving and living life with such joyful jubilance like a 2-year-old again.

Why did any of us ever stop living like that?

While I can think of many circumstances and reasons why our joy may have dimmed over the years, here are some actions that 2-year-olds do that we can relearn to perhaps reclaim our own joy.

RELATED: So God Made a Toddler

Wake up early and go. Eyes pop open, and it’s go timebut at your own pace of course so you can enjoy the entire process. Life is to be lived, but don’t let anyone rush you and tell you how to live. This is another day to live, laugh, and learn . . . and you determine your course.

Be independent. You can do it yourself, and if you can’t, keep trying. If you need help, remember there is help available. This is a learning and growing process so keep it fun.

Be a helper. It really is more fun when we are helpers, and it makes us feel happier too.

No means no! If you feel strongly about something, trust your gut. Just no. Learn to set those boundaries early and mean it.

“It’s mine!” Claim what is yours. Your time, your day, and what you want for your life. Your determination and strong spirit are admirable. Whether you are declaring this fiercely or exuding this truth quietly, others will quickly learn you are a force to reckon with and you mean it. 

Smile. At everything. Show those sparkling white teeth. Smiling is contagious and makes the world a brighter place. 

Get excited about anything and everything you can. Life is way more fun that way. Jump up and down. Run. Skip. Play. Let your eyes light up and sparkle. Be intensely happy about all the big and little things.

Eat well. Don’t skip meals. Fueling your body with adequate and healthy nutritious food will spark your energy, give you brainpower, and help avoid hangry meltdowns.

Keep moving.

Running and playing make you happier and healthier. Your energy level is pumped up by more activity in addition to adequate sleep and nutrition. 

Learn to be your own best friend. Enjoy spending time by yourself and make it a priority. Be kind to yourself.

Give affection and kindness generously. Do so authentically on your own terms. This world is parched for more hugs, kind gestures, and words of encouragement. People are inspired to go forward and do likewise when they are the recipients of love and kindness. 

Work hard to learn new skills. Practice over and over until you can do it.

Play. Always remember to get outside, play, dream big, imagine, and create.

Laugh and giggle. A lot. Laughing is fun and so much better than crying. Crying is a release and OK, too, but just for a short time, and then it is time to laugh again.

Wave to people and engage in the world around you.

It is super entertaining to meet new people and learn about them. Saying hi is the first step to many new friendships.

Naps are good and refreshing. But only on your own terms and only when you aren’t actually missing out on anything fun. 

Fiercely and courageously try new things every day. This is how we learn and overcome obstacles in life.

Forgive and forget. Let it go. What has happened is in the past. Learn from it, leave it there, and move on. That includes forgiving yourself. Let go of the bad, learn to avoid it going forward, and focus on the good your eyes can see.

Be present to live here and now. What you can touch, see, hear, smell, tastethese are the real senses that ground you back to what is most important.

Be your confident self.

Your boldness is incredible. You were born for this. You’ve got this. You are a crowd stopper and leader. You know how to captivate, take charge, and command a room.

RELATED: I’m Just a Toddler and I’m Still Learning

Be reserved and calm as you deem necessary. Taking time to listen and learn is crucial to understanding the broader perspective, gleaning greater insight, and cultivating discernment. Just because you can take center stage, does not always mean you should or that it is the right time. Sometimes yielding and waiting for the right time to do so, results in greater success and gaining more respect because it demonstrates self-control and high emotional intelligence.

Be teachable. Watch, listen, ask questions, and try to learn so you will know how to wisely discern. Have fun with it.

“Uh-oh!” It is OK to make mistakes. No one is perfect, and perfect people are boring and stagnant. Humbly own your part, learn from it, try to make it right, forgive yourself, and move on.

Learning through living is the best.

Observing the world around you, appreciating the little things, and checking out every detail is amazing. From grass blades to rain puddles, from butterflies to puppieseverything is exciting and so much fun. 

Now off to bed. Early to bed, early to rise. This life is meant to be lived healthy, hopeful, jubilantly joyful, and becoming wise.

Two-year-olds can remind and inspire us all to live each day determined, eager, curious to learn, and joyful!

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Jessica Campbell

I am a mother to four great kids, one of whom has already flown from the nest. As a pediatric nurse for many years, I have advocated for injury prevention, best practices, and empowering caregivers. Becoming a parent was a dream come true for me and has provided incredible opportunities to experience many joyful moments and love beyond measure. I have also come to learn that parenting is not always a blissful ride. It is the hardest job I have ever had, and raising kids can be intense and challenging at times. My heart is to encourage other parents along this journey so that we may spur one another on and thrive. I love to write and I enjoy looking for joy, laughter, and profound meaning in everyday experiences.

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