Your toddler goes through quite a range of emotions in one day, right? His little body and mind want to do so many things, yet he’s only cognitively and emotionally able to handle so much. Melt downs are common. Toddlers want what they want and they want it NOW! No ifs, ands or buts. This can sometimes make parenting a challenge.
How can we as adults help our little ones regulate their emotions?
- Describe your toddler’s feeling for her: “You look like you’re feeling sad because Daddy left for work” or “You are really mad because Grandma wouldn’t give you a second cookie!” This helps little ones recognize feelings that they cannot yet express on their own.
- Read books that talk about feelings and emotions. You can find great titles for toddlers at Amazon such as “I Was So Mad”, “Hands are Not for Hitting”, or “The Pout Pout Fish”. This helps young children understand that feeling a range of emotions is normal, but teaches them appropriate ways to manage their emotions.
- Talk about the difference between your child’s emotions and other people’s emotions. This is higher level thinking and may be better understood by older toddlers. Such, as, “You are laughing because you got the ball from Billy, but Billy is sad and crying because you took it from him without asking to have a turn.”
- Separate your child’s behavior from her emotions. Everyone gets angry, but we need to teach children how to manage anger in appropriate ways. For example, “I know you are mad, but you may not hit your sister” or “I know you are frustrated, but you may not throw your blocks. If you throw them again I will put them away.”
- Be a good role model. Remember that your toddler mimics your own feelings and behavior related to those feelings. If you scream & yell when angry, than your toddler is apt to do the same. Try to keep calm and keep your own emotions in check when dealing with your toddler’s behaviors and emotions. The calmer and matter of fact you are, the more this helps your toddler to regulate his emotions.