Along with empathy and pride, children start feeling frustrated when they reach toddlerhood. In fact, frustration is an emotion you’ll probably see a lot of at this age!
Toddler emotions and play
Toddlers are little people with big feelings that they don’t always have the words for.
That’s where you come in. Because play is the natural way children learn and develop, playing with your toddler gives him a chance to express and practise managing his feelings.
You can also help your toddler recognise what she’s feeling and why. For example, if she’s sad because her toy is broken, you can name that feeling for her by saying something like, ‘I can see you’re sad that your toy is broken. It’s OK – we can fix it’.
Toddlers watch how you express your feelings, and you can set a good example when you manage your feelings well. For example, you send a powerful message when you respond to your frustrated toddler with calmness and understanding.
What to expect from toddler emotions
Your toddler will probably:
Your toddler is also learning about a big new emotion – frustration. Your child is likely to:
By the age of three years, most toddlers start to feel emotions like guilt and shame. Your toddler needs lots of reassurance and support from you to help him understand these new feelings.
Play ideas to encourage toddler emotions
Play is one of the best ways for young children to practise expressing and managing their feelings. Great ways to encourage this include:
It’s a good idea to let your toddler take the lead with these play activities. But even if your child wants to be the boss during play, you still have an important role in supporting your child if he gets overwhelmed, or stopping the play if it puts him at risk of injury.
All children develop at their own pace. If you’re concerned about any aspect of your child’s development, it’s a good idea to talk with your paediatrician or General Practitioner (GP).
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