The anger of toddlers: what is the right attitude?
The anger of your toddler sometimes takes on such proportions that you do not know what to do! Our explanations and advice to better understand what it feels … and to react in a fitting way when it is overwhelmed by its emotions.
Why are we so often deprived of the anger of a toddler?
Faced with the anger of a child – who can even roll or scream – we often feel helpless because it seems disproportionate to the real situation. We then say a little too quickly that he “makes a whim .” However, no.
Up to 2-3 years, a child does not make whims. He does not have the neurological means to completely control his emotions, especially a feeling as intense as anger. He does not decide to be angry. He does not “make” violence. He is angry.
Being a toddler, a child, a teenager or an adult, anger is not always harmful because it also has a protective function: it forces us to react to something that does not make suitable.
How to identify situations that can trigger anger?
Violence is mostly linked to the fact that one of our basic needs is not respected. We all have five basic needs: the need for physical integrity, related to survival. The necessity of belonging, being loved and sharing. The need for freedom. Moreover, finally the need for pleasure and the need for competence, that of being able to do things on its own.
The anger of the young child is then a response to a need that is not understood. For example, about two years old, the child begins to feel the need to show what he is capable of: ” I can do everything on my own, dress myself, eat on my own … ” sometimes help …
How to help a toddler in the discovery of his own emotions?
Our adult role will be to teach the child to recognize and name the emotions he is experiencing. It is also a matter of gradually learning to differentiate between a need and envy.
A young child tends to confuse the two: he will tell you that he needs his red sweater rather than his blue shirt. He will inform you that he needs to sleep with Dad and Mom. In fact, he “needs” to sleep, and “wants” to be with Dad and Mom … However, everything has the same importance for the child. Without hurting them, it is up to us to teach them little by little how to make a difference.
However, at the moment, what is the right attitude towards a toddler who is overwhelmed by emotion?
It is important to remember that this “emotional tsunami,” represented by anger, puts him in a state of real distress. That is why, sometimes, the child who “makes a crisis” looks at us and holds out his arms. There, he needs an adult to take him against him to feel understood. It is only once the tension has fallen that it will be possible to talk with him about what has just happened.
Finally, we must be careful not to yield ourselves to anger. For anger is a contagious emotion. It usually causes violence in return. It is also a “screen” feeling that hides another: for example, when a child gets lost in a store when his parent finds him, the latter most often expresses his anger. However, the adult was at first afraid of losing his child. If he started by saying, “I was scared,” this different message would allow the child to be more attentive to his parent. It is easier to receive the distress of someone than his anger, in particular for a child.
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