As parents, it’s important that we teach our children how to manage their emotions, especially at a young age. Toddlers experience a wide range of emotions and since they don’t yet understand them fully, they can easily become overwhelmed. Hence, it’s necessary to teach them emotional regulation skills to help them cope with their big emotions.
Emotional regulation is the process of managing and responding to an emotional experience in a way that is appropriate and constructive. Toddlers who are good at regulating their emotions have better mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being. However, teaching toddlers emotional regulation can seem daunting, but it’s achievable with patience, consistency, and understanding.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings
The first step in teaching emotional regulation is to recognize your child’s feelings. When you acknowledge their emotions, you help validate their experiences and strengthen your relationship with them.
For example, if your toddler is crying because they spilled their juice, instead of saying “Stop crying, it’s just juice”, acknowledge their feelings by saying, “I see you’re upset because you spilled your juice. It’s okay to feel that way.”
Teach labels for emotions
It’s hard for toddlers to regulate their emotions if they don’t know what they’re feeling. Teaching them labels for emotions will help them recognize and understand what they’re experiencing. For example, you can teach your toddler that feeling nervous means having a butterfly in their tummy, feeling happy is when they smile a lot, and feeling angry means having a red face.
Model emotional regulation
Parents are important role models for their children, so it’s vital to model emotional regulation behaviors yourself. Children learn more from what they see rather than what they hear.
When you are feeling a strong emotion, verbalize how you’re feeling, and show them how you regulate the emotion. For instance, say “I’m feeling frustrated right now, so I need to take a deep breath and calm down.” This will help your toddler learn emotional self-control.
Create a calm-down corner
Sometimes, toddlers need to take a break and calm down when their emotions become too big to handle. Creating a calm-down corner in your home can help your toddler self-regulate their emotions.
The calm-down corner can include items that help your child calm down, such as a sensory bottle, soft toys, coloring books, or puzzles. When your toddler is feeling overwhelmed, encourage them to use the calm-down corner to regulate their emotions.
Praise their effort
Teaching emotional regulation takes time, patience, and effort, so be sure to praise your toddler’s efforts in learning how to regulate their emotions. Praise them when they use the calm-down corner correctly, show self-control, or use their words to express their feelings. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, and encourage them to keep practicing.
Teaching emotional regulation is an essential aspect of parenting that helps your toddler develop critical life skills and establishes strong emotional intelligence. Remember to acknowledge and label your child’s feelings, model emotional regulation behaviors, create a calm-down corner, and praise their efforts. By using these tips, you can help your toddler learn to manage their emotions constructively, leading to better mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being.