Two is a magical number in our house but also one that comes with trials.
Being a toddler is all about discovering the world and their place in it for our little ones.
Not always having the skills to express their needs and wants is frustrating for them and us.
Before we know it our cute little person can become a mini version of the Incredible Hulk.
As they find their place in the world and navigate through the haze of everyday life, how can we help our toddlers find a voice and intercept the explosions before they start?
My experiences have taught me the importance of giving them words for their feelings from as early as possible.
“Brrr it’s cold, let’s put a jumper on.”
“What an awesome smile, you look so happy.”
“Are you feeling sad, would you like a hug?”
If you can, try and get down to eye level – having someone tower over you can be more than a little intrusive.
Read books to your toddler that include emotions. Some good books that talk about emotions are:
Mouse was mad – Linda urban
The feelings book – Todd Parr
Get happy – malachy Doyle
Grumpy bird – Jeremy tankard
Because I love you – David Bedford and Rebecca Harry
The zebra who was sad – Rachael Elliot
There are moments when your toddler will just throw themselves on the floor and not be able to communicate with you what their frustrations are or what they want. Be ready with a hug and some reassuring words that include feeling labels.
Eg: “Did you want the green cup? It’s ok to feel sad that Sally took it first. Maybe next time you can have the green one.”
Shopping with a toddler can also be challenging, especially with all the many treats at their eye level and waiting it out while your toddler has their moment is not always an option. In this instance it’s probably best to pick up your struggling toddler and hold them. When they finally finish you can talk to them.
“Its ok to be angry because you wanted …… , are you hungry? When we have finished shopping we can get something to eat.”
Now here is where the choice comes in giving your toddler some control. “Would you like …,, or ……. ? Ok let’s hurry up and finish so we can get some ….. ( whatever they chose ). Want to help put things in the trolley.”
Most toddlers love to help out. Sure it takes longer to get things done, but it can also be a great distractor when they are frustrated. In our house Miss Moo (2 1/2) likes to help unload the plastic items from the dishwasher and put them away, wipe her small table, pass the clothes or pegs when I’m hanging the washing out and put her rubbish in the bin and plastic plate/bowl in the sink .
If your toddler is having trouble using their words to communicate and doesn’t have any hearing difficulties then I really recommend teaching your child/baby/toddler sign language and to combine it with verbal communication.
Sign Planet has some great baby sign information and resources to teach Auslan (Australian sign language).
Giving your toddler some communication tools, acknowledging their feelings and giving them some choices (even if they are small) while also giving them some boundaries that are steady can help relieve some of the frustrations that you both feel.
At the end of the day when your little one is tucked up in bed looking angelic after a trying afternoon or day just remember that they won’t be this little forever, so don’t forget to enjoy the moments.