Have you ever thought about how emotional your toddler can be? Toddlers are some of the most emotional creatures out there. Working through emotions with your toddler takes patience. It can help to remember that toddlers are new to this whole emotion thing and they don’t always know how to navigate those feelings, especially the big ones.
Understanding Toddlers & Their Emotions
Having emotions is a part of being human. We may not always like the emotions that are coming out of our toddler or how they are being expressed, but that doesn’t make their emotions less important. Teaching a toddler to work through their emotions is one of the best parenting moves we can make. Here is how to work through emotions with your toddler:
Acknowledge How Your Toddler Feels
As an adult, you can define your feelings. Toddlers cannot always do that. When your toddler is sad, happy, mad, or upset – help them to acknowledge those feelings. When they can start understanding how they feel, this is a big deal! Don’t try and talk them out of how they feel. Help give them the vocabulary to be able to begin to express their emotions.
Give Your Toddler Tools to Work Through Emotions
Helping your toddler through their emotions can seem like a never ending task. However, they are looking to you to help them through this time period.
You’ll need to guide them through this. For example, if your toddler is mad, give them the tools to help them express their “madness.” Let them draw or even go outside and run around. Toddlers are often too young to be able to use words effectively to express themselves, so using their bodies in ways such as dancing, miming, marching, crawling, painting, or using sensory play.
Another tool that can be helpful with young children is to use puppets, dolls, or stuffed animals to act out different scenarios and the simple emotions and responses that would go along with those emotions.
It’s vital that we give our children tools to help them express their emotions and work through them.
Talk to Your Toddler About Their Emotions
Reassure your child that it is normal and healthy to have feelings. If a toddler is feeling happy or mad, talk to them about these emotions. When someone is happy, they are usually laughing, smiling, and carefree. When a person is mad, they may have a “frownie face” and they aren’t always easy to cheer up.
By talking to your child about their emotions, they start to recognize their own emotions and they will start saying “I am so happy.” “I am sad today.” It’s an amazing feeling to watch a toddler start to understand their emotions. You can use a chart to help them identify the emotion they are feeling at that time.
Practice Patience as You Help Your Toddler with Their Emotions
Sometimes when our toddler hits someone or has a tantrum, it can invoke anger in us. As parents, it’s vital that we don’t let our toddler’s emotions become our emotions. Parenting calmly and patiently is going to teach your child more an angry reaction ever will. That’s easier said than done, but so critical.
As parents, we are the people our children will learn from the most. If we’re struggling with our own emotions, we can’t effectively help them. If you find yourself struggling with anger, frustration, or negative behaviours in response to your emotions, it’s wise to seek counselling before you try and coach your toddler with their emotions.
How Do I Help a Toddler Through Their Emotions?
Now that you have some tips for helping a toddler through their emotions, you may need a few practical ideas you can apply to the situation.
- Encourage your child.
- Give your child praise.
- Get your child on a good routine with mealtimes and bedtimes.
- Help your child know what to do when they have emotions.
- Let your toddler know that it is going to be okay.
How Can I Help My Child Express Their Feelings?
Expressing emotions is important and toddlers need to know how to express theirs. Here are some tips for helping your toddler express their emotions.
- Listen to them as they talk.
- Let them talk about their feelings.
- Help them find a way to express those emotions (painting, a sport, dancing, breathing).
- Talk about different feelings and words to describe those feelings.
Working through emotions with your toddler won’t stop when they’re 2, 3, or 4. You’ll need to help your child through different emotions at different ages. However, being a toddler is difficult because they don’t always have the right words or maturity to work through emotions.
What tips do you have for helping toddlers work through their emotions?
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