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How do you teach your toddler about expressing his emotions?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My DS is now 2 (26 months), and very emotional (spirited!).
He speaks well for a 2yo boy, at least compared to friends' boys this age, but he struggles to express his feelings when angry. I try to voice it for him, "it looks like you are frustrated... " etc., but wondering if I should be doing more. Sometimes when he just screams, I ask him to use his words to tell me instead, and he stares at me blankly, and then continues to scream -- and I just wonder if he understands any of this : . I'm not seeing any progress, so wonder if I am doing it all wrong.
Are there any (good) books for this age that help them understand?
post #2 of 9
I think that's about all you can do at this point. Sometimes they just need to scream. Dd (2 1/2) will do that sometimes if she is tired & frustrated. She will just sit on the floor & cry, scream & pull at her hair & there's nothing I can do to comfort her (all she wants to do is nurse, which isn't happening right now, but that's another story). I let her know I am there if she needs me; one time I couldn't listen any more & put her in her room & closed the door. I told her she could come out when she settled down. I went back in about 5 minutes later & she calmed down almost immediately. Don't know if it was the time alone or she was just done (after 45 minutes). Either way, it gave me a breather.

I just heard a speaker (Certified Family Educator) tonight saying how when you are angry, adrenaline draws oxygen away from your organs (including your brain) so you can't think properly. This goes for kids too, so there's no point trying to reason with them at the time. Try not to take it personally or get angry yourself & when he is calm, see if you can talk about it.

Good luck!
post #3 of 9
One thing that seems to have really helped my son was to also name MY emotions. When I'm frustrated, or sad, or happy, I say so. Now, he can pick up my tone of voice and sometimes knows my moods too well LOL. Just yesterday we were in thick traffic, and I missed a turn and let out an annoyed "ARG!" Ds piped up from the back seat "mama, you frustrated!" I said "yep, I am!" He will also now, when having a hard time with a toy (lately puzzles) do what I call his "frustration dance" He gently sets the puzzle peice down, then spins and stomps and says "FRUSTRATION!!" over and over until he's ready to tackle it again, or move on to a new toy LOL It's kinda cute, lets off his steam, and helps him keep his tanacious spirit. He has also learned "sad" and the other day told me the neighbors dog was sad because it's owner had told it "no" and he definately knows happy, and will randomly say "I'm so happy!"

So maybe try to make a point of labeling your own and others emotions and not just his.
post #4 of 9
I agree that you are perhaps doing all you can for him when you're with him but I think that, long term, the way you and your partner express yourselves, when angry, will be a major influence on how he handles his anger.

"The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child's home." ~ Sir William Temple
post #5 of 9
I have stuck to four basic emotions for my 25 month old: sad, happy, angry, and scared. We sometimes make different faces in the mirror, and then use them in real life. Like if she throws a tantrum I'll say, "Abi is angry." Or if she gets hurt I'll say "Abi is sad." It really seems to help when I validate her feelings, and most of the time she'll get over the bad moment sooner. I also point out characters in her books, what their emotions are. And once in awhile (although I don't know how well she understands this yet) I'll tell her my emotions. Like when she kept kicking me in the face during a diaper change, I said very strongly, "Mommy is very angry! No kicking Mommy!" I could see the little wheels turning.

post #6 of 9

what has worked for me is to verbally describe my emotions. eg, when i'm feeling sad, frustrated, excited etc. i tell dd, wow i'm so happy about that! etc, and she gets used to emotions being described...and does it herself. she's come to me and asked, "mommy, are you upset?" (maybe i looked upset, i don't know...)

hope this is helpful.
post #7 of 9
I got some feelings bear felt board pieces at
that really helped my son understand the 5 different feelings mad, happy, sad, scared, surprised.
You may want to check them out...or make your own
post #8 of 9

Modeling, naming and observing others

works well for us. We also have a board book called Baby Faces that has toddlers in all manner of emotion. It's very cute and easy to find.

Talking about the feelings others are having is helpful too, because then your child isn't in the thick of their own feelings and can observe.

Story Teller Felt are here too for different things, Create-a-Face and Create-a-Clown, as well as the Finger Plays all have various emotions you can create and talk about.

Good luck!
post #9 of 9
We have the Baby Faces book too and have been reading that together for a long time now. Like the other ladies mentioned, I label both mine and ds' feelings and when we read books together or see certain things, I will point out emtions, e.g. that girl is crying because she is sad. This seems to help. He knows the basics like happy, sad and scared and I taught him to ask for help when he is frustrated. Of course there are always times when he just needs to scream -- much like the rest of us, right?
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