Toddlers have a hard time telling what they feel. Toddlers express their feelings but don’t know how to tell in words. This makes them very frustrated and turns them into monsters. This is why you can see kids biting their peers, hitting or crying without stopping.
This behavior is only a result of not knowing how to say what they feel. What we need to do as parents is not put hot sauce in their mouth or bite them back, but TEACH THEM. Teach them how to properly express and tell what they feel.
Toddlers have the ability and capacity to learn fast. We just need to point them in the right direction. Toddlers don’t have a big vocabulary, their capacity to express with words is limited so might hear some toddler often say they’re sad when actually they are scared or nervous, or jealous.
So what should we do to teach them right? Here are a few steps to acquire this:
Our children are our imitators, they watch us and copy. So, be careful, when you curse, children think that this is the way they need to express their feeling. When you feel sad, just say that you feel sad. Or, when you feel nervous and upset, don’t curse, say what you feel. Use good words, by saying, “I am sad”, or “I am very nervous”, “I am mad at you because…”
Label their feelings
“You are mad. You are mad because you want to watch TV and I won’t let you.” When you notice your child is mad, is crying, is biting you or throws something at you, calm them down and tell them this. That you understand what they feel and label that feeling, so when the next times comes and the child feels nervous, it will know what it feels and will be able to tell you. This teaches them how to connect their feelings with words. And just in no time, after a couple of weeks or days, it will start to even correct you. You will hear your child say “I am sad, I am not mad.” This is when the child starts to develop emotional intelligence.
Label other people’s feelings
By observing other people the child will learn best. You can do this when you go out. If you see some child crying very loud, you can say to your child “The boy is crying. It must be sad.” But be careful to do this when the situation is inevitable to notice. You don’t want your child to go around and watch other people all the time. This is great because it not only increases the vocabulary but also improves their empathy and understanding.
Night check of feelings
You can do this during dinner or when you put the child to bed. It is a good idea to say how the day went. Tell something that made us sad or happy that day, even nervous or angry. During dinner, everyone of the family will have a chance to tell about their day. This way the toddlers will also improve empathy towards other people.
Guess my feeling
This is a very fun and entertaining game for us, and as well for the toddlers. You use facial expressions to express what you feel and the others guess your feeling. This is very helpful for the child because it helps them match facial expressions with feelings and to an emotion as well. Use mirrors for this game, so that the child can see their face and know how to express properly.
Read books focused on feelings:
–The way I feel by Janan Cain
–Grumpy Cat by Britta Teckentrup
–Voices are not for yelling by Elizabeth Verdick
Incorporate feelings in your vocabulary, read books about feelings, play this interesting game. Toddlers are fast learners, they will acquire this in no time.