The Importance of Acknowledging and Embracing Your Toddler's Strong Emotions
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The Importance of Acknowledging and Embracing Your Toddler’s Strong Emotions

Emotional Development in Toddlers

As human beings, we are programmed to find a sense of comfort in familiarity and routine. When something unexpected turns up out of the blue, especially something that poses a threat to our well-being, it will more often than not trigger an emotional response in the brain. A response that is designed to produce a physical response in us to keep us safe.

The downside here is that the associated feelings of fear, anger and despair are hard for us to acknowledge. Even more so in the case of toddlers, who are just starting to learn about the world around them. Toddler Emotional Development, then, is crucial where it comes to ensuring your children know that they have someone looking out for them in the most trying times – you!

The Importance of Emotional Development in Toddlers

The glorious toddler years are vital for emotional development, as this is the time when they are first exposed to the complexities of emotions.

The emotional development skills toddlers learn, including how they understand, regulate and express their emotions, can help them develop into emotionally competent human beings.

How to acknowledge your child’s emotions

So, how does one succinctly acknowledge the emotions of their toddlers? Here’s a look at ways to do just that.

Be present

You have to learn to listen to what your child is saying and validate their emotions, so that there will be less likelihood of those emotions blowing out of proportion.

Tell them all feelings are okay

Ever heard of the saying ‘It’s ok to not be ok’? Teach your child that no matter what the emotion – sadness, anger or fear, it’s perfectly all right to feel it. That will make it all the more likely for them to share their emotions with you.

Empathize wholeheartedly with them

The best way to validate your child’s feelings is by letting them know you would feel the same way if you were in their shoes. Note: Actually ‘put’ yourself in your child’s shoes, to garner a better understanding of how they feel.

Actively listen

Ensure you don’t miss a thing of what they say. If they are telling you how much they miss their dog who has just died, throw in an anecdote or two about their late pet that shows you are truly hearing them out.

Acknowledge feelings by linking them to past experiences

Another great way to show you care about their feelings, is to validate their emotions by telling them something like, ‘I know it’s not fair that you have to miss going to the beach this weekend, especially since you had such a great time only the previous weekend.’

Emotional Development Activities for Toddlers

Emotional development activities for toddlers are great for honing the social-emotional skills of kids, that are the very foundation of healthy relationships and mental health.

Here’s a look at the top activities to help toddlers broaden their understanding of emotions.

  • Using finger paint to express feelings. Your toddler is going to be able to well identify with that ‘happy face’. Or perhaps a sad and angry one, too.
  • Imaginative play with puppets or toys. With your able assistance, your little one can help care for that ‘sick’ baby doll.
  • Read out stories that convey emotions. Reading books that convey emotions that the protagonists feel, like anger or sadness, can be a great way to help kids ‘connect’ with what they are feeling inside.
  • Singing and dancing. Happiness is best conveyed through singing and dancing. Who hasn’t heard of the popular song, ‘When you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’?
  • Playing with other children. Your children have to spend less time in front of the screen and more time playing with other kids. This will teach them things like ‘sharing’, which will make it easier for them to control their emotions.
  • Taking care of animals. You don’t have to use real animals for this one. All you need is some stuffed toys that you can use to demonstrate how their real-life counterparts can get hurt. Then, let the children take ‘care’ of them so they imbibe that invaluable sense of empathy for all living beings.
  • Playing ball games. Merely throwing a ball to another child is a great way of teaching children that they must ‘wait their turn’. The sense of cooperation they glean from this simple activity is vital in fostering relationships.
  • Playing games with the family. When children play fun family games, they learn what it means to lose. That goes a long way in teaching them the power of persistence and acceptance, thus enabling them to firmly keep those emotions in check. Truly one of the activities that goes a long way in nurturing those emotional skills.
  • Setting up a Calm Corner. Activities for toddlers to control those emotions can be as simple as sitting in one place designated to provide them ‘me-time’. Designate a corner in their room where they can spend some time by themselves whenever they find themselves especially overwhelmed with emotion.
  • Teach them to label their emotions. One of the best activities for toddlers to help them sharpen their emotional skills, is to have them label the emotion they are feeling: anger, sadness, etc. Begin by doing this for them. Over time, let them do it on their own.
  • Be a Role Model. Last but not the least, don’t be afraid to wear your emotions on your sleeve. If you’re sad, don’t hide it. Children need to know that it’s okay to feel pain, and what better way to truly comprehend it than for them to see it upfront, from none other than their doting parent! Definitely one of the most underestimated activities for toddlers that help them deal with their emotions.

At EuroKids we place a great deal of emphasis on nurturing the emotional development of children. We believe that this aspect of their development is crucial in influencing a child’s sense of empathy, self-confidence and even the ability to foster meaningful relationships.

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