Are you bothered with how your toddler reacts to situations that triggers his or her anger and frustration? It may be a common dilemma for parents to be caught in certain incidents where their little toddler suddenly hits a playmate or pushes an adult away. Why is this behavior a common thing with children at this age? Let’s try to figure things out by taking a closer look at what anger and frustration really means.
Understanding Anger And Frustration
By definition, anger is an emotion felt towards something or someone that has negatively affected a person. In young children, anger might be caused by simple things such as a toy being pulled away by a playmate, or another child seating on a chair which he/she was supposed to occupy. Anger can be triggered by people, things, or situation that they feel has deliberately done them something wrong.
On the other hand, frustration is an emotion felt as a result of being unable to do or achieve something. This is a common thing among toddlers since at their age, they are still practicing their skills of trying to do things on their own. For example, being unable to write a circle, or finding it hard to get a toy from a box can frustrate them.
As we can see, anger and frustration in toddlers are often caused by simple reasons and we know that they ought to outgrow it. However, as parents, we wouldn’t want our young ones to get used to acting too aggressive against something or somebody. As much as we could, we need to find ways on how to handle the situation and help our child achieve a sense of control on how to react to his/her emotions. Here are some good ways to start with:
Ways To Help Toddlers Learn To Cope With Anger And Frustration
1. Know the triggers.
Observe your little one. What seems to trigger his/her anger or frustration? Is it a toy, playmate, or a stranger perhaps? Knowing what causes him/her to behave negatively would already give you a hint of things you want your child to avoid in order to keep his/her mood calm and stable. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
2. Respond immediately.
Parents need to respond to the situation as soon as possible. For instance, if your toddler suddenly hits his playmate with a toy, you can respond promptly by holding his/her hand firmly (not to the extent that it hurts). This simple act would mean that hitting was not an acceptable way to express his/her emotions.
3. Recognize his/her emotion first.
In helping our little toddler cope better with anger and frustration, parents need to take note that they should recognize the emotions of their little one first (“I know you’re angry”, or “I understand you’re upset”) before setting limits. An example would be, “I know you’re really mad about the seat which was supposed to be yours (recognizing the anger), but you can’t just push somebody away from it. Using this strategy will help parents communicate with their child that they understand his/her feelings, but they need to set a limit to an unacceptable behavior.
4. Give positive reinforcements.
If your toddler has managed to keep his/her emotions to acceptable limits, giving a positive reinforcement would make it more likely for him/her to do it again. Words like, “I am proud that you have remained calm”, or “I am glad that you didn’t hurt your playmate this time”, would give your toddler a sense of approval and compliment to act more responsibly.
5. Be a role model.
Observe yourself – how do you usually respond to stressful situations? Are you the type of person who could remain calm or are you one who acts aggressively as well? Toddlers are great imitators. If we want to teach them something, it can be easily done by starting out with our own selves.
Further Reading: 10 Ways To Stay Sane And Deal With Toddler Tantrums
Learning will always start from home. Teaching a toddler how to manage his/her anger or frustration can be very challenging but is essential as it can reinforce positive coping strategies which they can use later in life.