My husband and I have learned in our six years of marriage that most of our problems come from either poor communication or lack of communication. We're still working on it.
Is it any wonder that the majority of angst that most parents suffer in their relationship with their toddler child is because of poor or lack of communication? Is it any surprise that it is at two years old that the children become "terrible"? This is the age when children are (on average) learning to talk and get frustrated when they are not understood.
I was so incredibly lucky to be introduced to a way around this in our family. With Hannah, we started doing sign language at around twelve months old. We were told to start signing with food signs, which she would pick up the fastest, and move on from there. Well, my booby baby had absolutely zero interest in food, so it was not until we started doing animal signs that she started signing back. Once she connected that she could tell us about dogs, cats, sheep, cows, and horses, she thought the signing thing was pretty cool.
We used a blend of ASL and 'baby' sign language and never asked her to modify her baby signs to do them properly. As she matured she added signs at an increasingly fast rate. One a week, then a few a week, then a few a day! It stunned us how thirsty she was for that ability to communicate with us. Once she'd labeled everything in her everyday life, the sign acquisition slowed back down to a "need to know" basis. I lost count of how many signs she knew somewhere past 100, when she was asking how to 'say' giraffe and hippo. She started talking not long after that and the signing slowly phased out.
But between learning to sign and learning to talk, the only fits she had were because she was teething or because we as parents had dropped the ball and she was either very tired or very hungry. There were no fits because she couldn't communicate that she wanted a drink. Or because a drink of water was handed to her and she wanted milk, dammit!
So now it's time for number two. I started signing with Ainsley earlier than with Hannah because Ainsley is in a hurry to get going on everything. When she would do something, or look at something, I would make the sign and move on. I never require or even encourage a sign in return. It will happen when the child is ready.
With Ainsley I started out with animals - I should have started out with food. Booby baby this child is not. As soon as I added food to the mix, she started signing and is now signing around ten signs. She doesn't seem to have the need to sign that her sister did - Hannah knows what she wants.
And about communication with Hannah. I've learned something about a 3 1/2 yr old. They listen to what you say and try to use it in their life, try to find the context and add to their vocabulary. Which is why I must stop swearing around my children. We were playing the 'Backyardigans' board game the other day and Hannah landed on a blank square. In a conversational tone she said "Frickin' hell, that doesn't help me!"