When your children are two they are asserting their independence, they use more words, argue, and often cry. When my children were at this age I learned some lessons. One was that tired children are never much fun when you are trying to get something done. The second was that hunger would always make a mood much worse. To that end I carried food with me everywhere, in my purse, and in the car. My youngest became trained like Pavlov's dogs. She would get in the car and say, "I'm hungry." because she new I always had food and would feed her in the car.
Another tactic I learned which helped when my children were young was distraction. If you could make them laugh, point out something curious for them to look at, or get even another person involved they could "forget" their anguish. Changing gears on their own was too difficult. They could use a nudge or excuse to "let it go".
During the last couple of weeks I have some situations with my eldest daughter (my Tween) which found me falling back into these methods. For the most part our routine has been going along well, but as school approached trouble emerged. Their was increased excitement (and anxiety). The stress led to some exhaustion. Then there would be an argument. It doesn't matter what the arguments were about. As an adult I did not see the need to have a huge blow out over small things. My daughter would continue to persist and get more agitated as I did not engage. I half expected her to throw herself on the floor and scream. (Thankfully she did not do this) Instead of a tantrum I did get my first door slam though.
My main tactic in these situation is to reassure her I love her. I stay calm and tell her I don't want to argue. IF this manages to calm her but then she STILL wants to discuss her situation (or how wrong I was) I would ask questions about school or who she texted with or what color she wants to paint her room. It worked! The best thing was that our conversation would wind around on a curvy track and I could expose the kernel of truth about what she really was worried about. (It usually is not anything related to our original argument) An example: we argued because she had to get her OWN towel to use the hot tub (I know, I have SOME nerve huh?) but really she was upset her friends in Delaware had gotten together without her, she felt left out and missed them. So in the end I have learned that I don't need to keep fruit bars in the car anymore but it pays to be patient and peel back the layers to find the truth. As I stated in a previous blog, Children are like Ogres, they have layers.(Shrek)