Toddler Feelings - help your toddler manage their emotions

Toddler feelings…. Oh boy can this be a hard phase to go through! Toddler emotions can be really hard to manage, understand, and cope with. Not only for them, but for us as well. In this post, I’ll be sharing some tips to make the emotions of a toddler a little easier.

toddler feelings

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Many of us today expect toddlers to have a handle on their emotions, have a hard time identifying when there’s a problem, and it results in a giant mess.

But I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Is it easy to navigate through? No. Way. But we can approach it as teamwork and together get through this really difficult phase that all toddlers experience.

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Understanding toddler feelings

The very first thing to tackle, in my opinion, is understanding toddler feelings. If you don’t understand how they work, you likely will struggle in helping them manage them.

Having the right expectations of your toddler is incredibly crucial.

The single most important thing to remember is that toddlers feel emotions very strongly.

Toddlers experience every emotion in big ways.

Something that is no big deal to us, is a very big deal to them. Not because they’re being irrational, rude, or acting out.

But because they are feeling something unfamiliar and don’t yet know how to handle it.

Before you react to an emotional toddler, be sure to keep this in mind so you can respond appropriately.

Set a good example

The most important thing we can do for our toddlers is to set a good example for them. Afterall, they will copy what they see.

You, the parent, must have a handle on your emotions yourself. There are a few reasons why this is so important.

They learn from us. Toddlers are little copycats so however we respond to something, they will do it that way as well. If we throw tantrums ourselves, so will they. If we are calm, they will learn to be so as well.

It creates a safety net for them. When a toddler is having an emotional day, we can be the calm to their storm. If we set a good example and have a handle on our emotions, we can be their safe space and help them.

They will follow our lead. As children learn to respect and trust us, they will follow our lead. They will learn that we understand them and their emotions, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what they want. By having a handle on our emotions and setting an example, they will follow along in the day-to-day.

Kids can pick up our emotions and moods. Even if we don’t vocalise it or express it, our children still know when there is tension or if we are calm. Having a handle on our emotions ourselves is so important for them.

Talk them through it

A very important part of helping a toddler manage their emotions, is to talk about it. And not just talk about it, but talk about it all the time.

Make it easy for them to talk about their emotions by talking about yours. If they see you talking about your feelings and emotions, it will encourage them to do the same when they’re struggling.

This can be as simple as “I’m really sad I don’t know where my necklace is. I’m going to look for it and I’ll be happy when I find it.”

You can also have conversations when you notice other people, too. Discuss things like “Do you see that baby crying? I wonder what she’s sad about. What do you think she needs?”

Granted… it will depend on age as younger toddlers may not be able to problem solve needs yet. But they will understand as you explain the baby is sad, and theorise she might be tired or hungry.

Make sure everyone is calm when you talk about feelings. If a toddler is in the middle of a tantrum it is not the time to talk to them. Be sure to help comfort them and then talk once they are ready.

Provide a safe space

It is also important to provide a safe space so kids understand that emotions are not bad and that they can come to us anytime they are struggling with something.

Acknowledge and accept their feelings. The first step is to always acknowledge and vocalise what they may be feeling. Simply saying you notice they’re sad/angry, and if there’s anything you can do to help. Or instead of asking if they need help, reassure that you understand how hard those feelings can be.

Create a calm down space for them. Older toddlers may benefit from having their own space when they need time to calm down. This can be as simple as a corner in their room where they can take a few minutes alone. Or you can create an entire corner designed for relaxing.

Make some sensory items such as bottles and bins. A cool thing to include in a calm down space might be some sensory bottles and sensory bins. Sensory bottles are especially cool since they can help all of us feel calm within ourselves.

Resist the urge to punish emotions. While it’s hard, resist the urge to punish emotions. Before you respond to a certain situation, make sure it is not stemmed by a lack of needs being met or emotions getting the best of your toddler. Instead, comfort them and help them handle their emotions.

Now that said, it is still important to have boundaries. You can acknowledge their feelings, comfort them, and then take time to talk it out after they are calm. Explain that the behaviour is not okay and what to do next time instead. Or if they are older, ask what they think is a better way to respond.

Stock up on books + media

While creating a good environment for them is great, there is even more we can do. Reading is an
incredible learning tool for kids, and that includes little messages we want to send, too.

Sit with them to watch episodes of their favourite show about emotions. Or read some books, too.

A few of my personal favourite books about emotions include:

I have included affiliate links below. If you use these links I will earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

toddler emotions

Related content:
Getting your toddler to eat
Toddler bedtime routine
Easy ways to connect with your child 

I hope this helped you get some ideas on navigating the waters of toddler emotions. The feelings of a toddler can be very difficult and scary, but can be managed if approached in the right way.

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