Big emotions + minimal vocabulary = LOTS of frustration.
I think that pretty well sums up why the toddler years are such a challenge.
Now that they are more mobile and becoming even more aware of their environment, they want to explore everything but often their little bodies can’t keep up. Surely we can empathize with what that feels like.
So here’s another recap of our top tips on helping young children learn to deal with that frustration and to help you navigate through it calmly AND with confidence.
1. Acknowledge Emotions
This is probably THE most powerful strategy to prevent a full on meltdown and it can help turn things around when littles are in the middle of one…sprawled on the floor, kicking, screaming + bawling their eyes out.
Simply verbalizing how they are feeling without telling them how they “should” feel or what they “should” do lets kiddos know that it’s ok for them to feel the way they do.
At the end of the day they just want to know that you understand how they feel and that you’re there for them, but know that we are naturally programmed to solve problems so when the tantrum is happening we automatically just think about how to fix it…ASAP!
So before dealing with the behaviour and following thru with consequences, take a moment to really show your little one that you feel for them. This is how we begin teaching kiddos about empathy + compassion.
2. Comfort + Understand
When kiddos get upset they don’t need us to “make the world better” by taking away all their problems so they can be happy.
What they need is for us to comfort them and show them we understand. What they need is for us to let them know it’s OK to feel sad or angry or frustrated or disappointed sometimes, and have us fully present by their side so they can learn how to effectively handle these big emotions.
Feeling comforted + understood is the 1st steps to developing self regulation skills and building EQ. THIS is what will help them be happy.
3. Let Them Work It Out
Give kiddos the chance to try to figure it out when they face a problem.
Ex. Your kiddo wants to hold on to a huge ball and climb up on to the couch at the same time. Give them the space to figure out how to coordinate their body to do both at the same time or let them figure out they can put the ball on the couch before climbing up……Resist helping them up or holding the ball for the them ?. Sometimes we get so good at anticipating what our little guys need we jump in too quickly to rescue them from their situation and end up doing it all for them.\
When we let kiddos figure it out on their own we are helping them build their self-confidence. This greatly decreases frustrations b/c they aren’t dependent on you to make things happen for them but will feel confident enough to take charge and find a solution on their own.
4. Stay Calm
When littles get upset it’s hard for us not to get emotional, so remember to check your own emotions first.
Notice if their behaviour is triggering you to feel annoyed, frustrated, angry etc. etc…and manage that before dealing with their behaviour. Little guys are incredibly sensitive and can sense even the slightest shift in energy which can add fuel to the fire.
PPS: If you need a more detailed guide to managing these tricky behaviours, go snag a free copy of our ebook “7 Simple Steps to Less Meltdowns + Calmer Days”. This guide is packed full of tips to support your littles thru their big emotions and we even give you the exact things to DO + SAY to help minimize those pull-your-hair-out moments.