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Top ways to manage and regulate big emotions in toddlers

Updated: May 3

Image of kid and mother talking to each other

What are the most prominent big emotions?

It is safe to conclude that the major emotions that humans go through can be categorized into joy, anger, sadness, disgust, guilt, embarrassment, jealousy, and fear. Any situation can trigger one or more of these emotions in us. As adults, we have the required vocabulary and understanding to label these, but our children are still in the process of identifying and associating these emotions with situations. However, this doesn’t stop them from feeling it. This gap in their emotional and expressive state is what frustrates them. Play-based learning methods can be utilized to help them understand their emotions.

Best ways to manage big emotions in children

Since children are continuously discovering and learning about themselves and their surroundings, it is easy for them to be overwhelmed. An overwhelmed child might have a tantrum or meltdown. This is an unpleasant experience for both the parent and the child.

However, it is also one of the most natural and age-appropriate behaviors that your child portrays. You might not be able to prevent a tantrum, but you can equip yourself and your child to cope with one. There are a few things that can help manage and regulate big emotions in children.

  1. Express – the primary reason for a tantrum in toddlers is their failure to express. They feel big feelings but are not able to convey this to the adults around. To help them better regulate their emotions, the most important requirement would be to help them understand their emotions. Encourage them to label their emotions, so they can identify how they feel.

  2. Validation – what might seem trivial for adults would be of great importance to toddlers. Hence, it is very important that we do not make fun of the big emotions that our little people go through.

  3. Set boundaries – as children try their best to express themselves in a tough situation, it becomes important to clearly establish what is not acceptable. This does not have to be rude or harsh. Calmly letting them know that hitting is not acceptable and then removing them from the scene is an effective way to establish healthy boundaries.

  4. Calming down – telling an angry person to calm down works to do the opposite, especially when it comes to children, they are not even aware of how to do this. Therefore, giving them exact instructions might help here. Counting to 10 or taking deep breaths can be some of the techniques that can be employed for this purpose.

  5. Seek help – it is important for children to be aware that they have loving adults around them who are there for support. Whether it is a hug that can help them regulate or a shoulder to cry on, they should be reminded that asking for help in managing their big emotions is never a bad idea.

Teaching young children these life skills is not an easy task but a very important one. If parents or caretakers at home are unable to do it, it is a good idea to reach out to a prenursery that can help. While doing so, ensure that the kindergarten offers small class learning. This would give your child the individual attention they need to thrive!


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