The emotions of small children can be unpredictable, making it difficult to manage them. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to help your little one understand that it’s normal to feel angry, but also to help them understand how to express it. Often, tantrums and other adverse behaviour can be down to their ability to properly express themselves.
How Your Toddler Can Express Anger Safely
Ideally, children will learn to use their words to express their feelings. However, a small child may not yet have the vocabulary. You can help with this by validating their feelings. For example, you could say, “I see you’re upset by this.” Or “You seem angry” or even, “If you’re frustrated, maybe we should try something else.”
You can also provide a role model. If you’re frustrated while in traffic, tell your child that you feel upset by it and then suggest a way to handle it, such as playing a game or making funny faces.
Other methods of letting out anger include:
- Taking a Time Out: Rather than see this as a punishment, you can frame it as taking a moment to collect yourself. Provide a cosy corner where your little one can go if they feel overwhelmed.
- Draw a Picture: Sometimes, children are happier with expressing themselves through art and may draw a picture of how they feel. Even if it’s just scribbling, it gives them an outlet for their feelings.
- Learn Sign Language: Teach your child the signs for different emotions so that they can express themselves. This will also help when they need to tell you how they feel.
- Use Water as a Calming Device: Running water can be quite calming and children may use this technique by simply placing their hands under a faucet. The water will help them relax and get control back.
- Take Deep Breaths: This is a method that has worked for generations and is a good one to teach your children. Counting to ten while taking deep breaths is an excellent way to calm the nervous system and relax the body.
Your child may be unable to control their emotions for a good reason. Sometimes, kids are just overtired and need a nap. You can avoid problems by ensuring they get enough sleep or have a nap when needed.
Likewise, hunger and thirst can contribute to behavioural issues and may be easily remedied. Keep snacks on hand to stave off hunger-induced anger.
Finally, give your child choices where possible so they can feel more in control. You can also warn them ahead of time if there will be a change, such as leaving the game they’re playing and going to the shops. Knowing what to expect will help your child prepare mentally for the change.