Supporting Your Toddler’s Emotional Development
I have been taking a bunch of psych and child development classes at our local community colleges for fun. Recently I finished a paper on how to support your toddler’s emotional development. I wanted to know about what my daughter was experiencing, her own emotional development, as well as find ways to support her through it. I thought some of you might be interested in what I found, even if much of it is written for an academic (my professor). I put together a fact sheet based on the major bullet points that I’ll share first. If your interest is peaked feel free to let me know and I will be happy to email you the actual paper too.
FACT SHEET: Supporting Emotional Development During the Toddler Years
ü Toddler is a term for a child who is roughly between the age of 1 and 3.
ü Toddlers need to be allowed to test limits and push boundaries. Too many restrictions and not being allowed to explore their worlds hinders healthy emotional development.
ü Do not immediately try to solve a problem for a toddler, let them try to solve it themselves and praise them for the effort they are make to solve the problem.
ü Toddlers are not capable of resolving conflict verbally with other children. Thus, caretakers need to be good role models and hands-on during group play times. Encourage taking turns, keep a calm demeanor and redirect play if conflict arises.
ü Become a safe “home base” so that the toddler feels they can explore the world but return to the safety of a caregiver as soon as they need to. Warmth, sensitivity, responsiveness and a predictable daily routine are paramount.
ü Choose toys, books, music and food that reflect the child’s cultural identity.
ü Strive to understand what emotions your toddler may be feeling; they are not just using outbursts to manipulate you. Help him/her to understand and self-regulate his/her feelings by discussing them, empathizing with them, and showing healthy outlets for expressing strong emotions (hitting the bed, ripping paper, etc.)
ü Define “the rules that matter” and find ways to enforce those rules that are not too harsh. A toddler will constantly test the same rule over and over so have just a few key rules.
ü Fathers positively affect their child’s emotional development most at 2 and 3 years old.
ü Clear communication with a toddler so that s/he knows what to expect and being sure not to “draw out” the good-bye process are proven ways to help ease separation anxiety.