Supporting Emotional Growth

This has been a trying time for lots of people here in the US, and also around the world. Emotions and processing emotions is difficult for a child. You continue to develop emotional skills into adolescence. There are a lot of things that you can do for your toddler to help and understand their developmental stage. Toddlers are at the stage where they are discovering a sense of self. At this stage, what they seek is validation for their emotions and in doing so, you help them process.

We sometimes see behavioral issues when children get overwhelmed. Here is what to watch for and what you can do about it.

Things to watch for:

  1. Overly needy behaviors – not wanting to leave your side, crying, tantrums
  2. Perking up to a various sensory inputs – being startled by sirens or the phone ringing
  3. Eating more – Sometimes children soothe by putting things into their mouths. They might crave more food at this time.
  4. Decrease in attention – Children can be easily distracted when they are anxious and might not be able to concentrate as well.
  5. Sleep disturbances – Children may have a harder time sleeping or sleeping through the night.

What can you do:

  1. Stay calm – Those mirror neurons work both ways. If you show anxiety, they will also feel that. But if you are calm, you can be a regulating force for them.
  2. Play calm music – Slower music with a slower beat can calm the heart rate.
  3. Talk through those feelings – What did you hear? A police siren? That was loud, huh? Sometimes loud noises can make us scared. But you’re safe with mommy/daddy.
  4. Keep them busy – Allow for longer bath time to supplant some of that sensory stimulus with something soothing. Play with playdoh (also a tactile activity). Have snacks around for when they need to soothe by eating.
  5. Trust your gut – You have intuitive ways that you’ve calmed your child before. Use all of those methods. You are their parent, you are important in their world and you have innate skills that come to you. Trust those instincts. As long as you remain calm, you’ll model how to do that for your child.