It's taken a lot of explaining to get Carter on board with the Elf on the Shelf tradition. I think his vocab is pretty decent, but definitely not up to snuff enough to process that the elf is watching him, leaves, talks to Santa and comes back every night. And magical? How do you explain that word? The only part he really perks up at is when Santa Claus is going to bring him more trucks. He completely accepts that he's not allowed to touch the elf, which is awesome because, for that, we've totally avoided the mega tantrums I was expecting.
For the first two days, he pointed at the elf throughout the day and exclaimed, Look! Efff! When he did that, I'd go on my tangent, Yeah! He's watching you to see if you're good ... and so on. On day three, to my surprise, he came downstairs, and the first thing he did before requesting his morning milk was look for the missing elf. I hadn't even mentioned it.
Mommy, Eff go? Mommy, Eff go?
We were behind with gearing up for Christmas, so we only have about a week of Elf hunting under our belts.
Here's my advice for Elf on the Shelf with a two year old who barely grasps the concept of Christmas:
It helps if the house area surrounding the elf is clean and clutter-free. This makes it easier to find the elf and spotlights how special he is compared to other (unseen) toys.
For the first few days, put it in spots that are unreachable while you're explaining the purpose of the elf.
There are hundreds of scenario ideas floating around on the internet. I try not to read them and come up with my own. Make it do the things your toddler can do & relate to. These are the things that make him amazing and funny.
Don't accept limitations. If you have an idea, make it happen. Use tape.
Make a special phone call just so he/she can tell Daddy what the elf is doing every day.