Anybody who has a child or who has worked in early childhood development or education knows that it doesn't take long for a toddler's emotions to get out of control. A young child can easily be completely ruled by their emotions. No matter what the consequences may be, rage may make them throw a total tantrum, or a feeling of happiness can be all consuming. It's normal for any human being to be emotional, but if your toddler's emotions are out of control sometimes, here are some tips for helping them better handle their feelings.
Acknowledge Their Feelings with Simple Words
Toddlers are no different than adults when it comes to their desire to be understood. What can be irksome for a toddler is that they don't have the full vocabulary to accurately express all their complicated feelings. Sometimes you can give a toddler a sense of control by simple summarizing how they are feeling with simple words. If they are angry at their dad, you may state, "I see that you are mad at Daddy right now."
Show a Clear Understanding of Their Emotions
Young children also need acceptance and empathy. Although it may be extremely inconvenient for your child to get mad at you in front of your visiting aunt, you can't just wish their feelings away any more than they can. What can help the child get over it faster is showing them empathy. You may say something such as, "You know, I see that is really upsetting that he broke a promise. It hurts when people don't do what they say they will. I'm so sorry." When your toddler receives comfort, empathy, and understanding with unpleasant emotions, they can better process them.
Encourage Healthy Expressions of Emotions
Reiterate that your child can express how they feel. Encourage healthy displays of emotions, while being firm that unhealthy behaviors are not okay even when someone is upset. For example, you have to stop a child who is kicking furniture, but you can still let them express anger in other ways. You may explain, "You can be angry as much as you need to be, but you cannot kick things." Set boundaries but reassures your child that their feelings are okay.
Finally, strive to let your child express their feelings. Try to always allow them to feel whatever it is they are feeling without stating that any emotion is bad or off-limits. That sets your child up for more healthy behaviors and attitudes towards feelings as they grow up.