Toddlers often get a bad rap because of their temper tantrums when it's not their fault. We fail to understand that they are just little humans that can't understand how things function. It's our job as adults to help them with their emotions.
Helping a toddler learn how to handle his/her emotions requires a lot of patience. Here are three tips on how to help your toddler handle and express their feelings correctly.
Toddlers are sponges. They are always following adults around just watching and listening. There is a right way to act in front of your kids. Make sure you and everyone around you, behave and communicate in the best way possible when you are around your toddler. They will pick up on your conflict resolution skills and how you express yourself and follow in your footsteps. It is also ok to mess up but take this as an opportunity to teach your children how to apologize and take responsibility for their actions.
Good examples are not enough; we also need to teach kids about emotions. Toddlers throw tantrums because it's the only way they know how to express their feelings and get attention from adults. Instead of getting mad, it's better to teach them how to express their emotions correctly. Try out the following suggestions.
⦁ Put words to your feelings
Since your child is always observing you, learn to put words to your feelings and actions, so they can express themselves when they feel or act the same way. For example, when you are angry, instead of cursing say, “I am angry."
⦁ Put words to their emotions
You can also teach children emotions based on their actions and feelings. For example, if they are happy you may say, "you are happy because you got a new toy." That way they learn what they are feeling or doing, and what to call it so they can express it in words.
⦁ Teach them to express their emotions in words
After some time of coaching your kids on emotions, you need to teach them to speak these words. Do not condone emotional outbursts. Instead, say, " tell me with your words what you are feeling." Repeat this until they are able to label them.
⦁ Share daily stories and experiences
Encourage your child to share experiences with you and then put emotions to words accurately. Ask him/her questions like, "how did you feel about that?" You can also share your feelings by saying things like, " I had a nice day, and I am happy." Let them see the look in your face so they can identify it as happiness in their emotional dictionary.
⦁ Use music and pictures
Help your child express his/her emotions by encouraging them to create a song for their emotions or let them point their feelings from pictures. For example, slow songs for sadness and upbeat ones for happiness.
Also, watch movies and read books with your child while pointing out different emotions in the characters. Here, they learn that hands can do the talking. You can make comments like," that Teddy is happy because he's smiling." With time, the child will learn to express their feelings using words easily. At their worst, they will at least be able to point out how they feel in pictures which will help a lot.
Sometimes, helping your child identify different emotions is not enough; they need an outlet. If you find that your child cannot calm down or express their feelings with words, redirect their energy.
Take them out for a run or allow them to communicate their feelings through a drawing. They can also dance because feelings can be expressed through music. These options show them that there are better ways of dealing with disturbing emotions than throwing tantrums.
These are a few ways to help your child express and deal with emotions properly. What other ways have worked when teaching your little ones to express their feelings?