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Toddler years are magical and challenging. My youngest child is just transitioning into a more independent and mature stage of her childhood and I am desperately trying to capture in my memories every aspect of her personality, character, and innocence and that toddlers possess. But I had to train myself to appreciate every aspect of this early stage of the child’s development. Here is what I’ve learned.
Parenting a toddler becomes painful, tiring, and exhausting when (like pretty much in every sphere of life) our expectations do not line up with reality. Yet, when we understand the way a child’s brain develops and the processes that occur within their little bodies, when we get equipt with the right tools to support the child’s emotional, physical, and psychological growth, we feel much more in control and can adjust our expectations to meet the reality of raising a toddler. We gain a totally different perspective that transforms our relationships and parenting experience.
We are often programmed to focus on ‘educational’ experiences for our little toddlers. These are certainly important and beneficial, but they stand lower on the pyramid of the child’s needs. Once we have attended to their emotional and physical needs, we can confidently start nurturing their curiosity and cognitive functions.
“Michael Potegal Ph.D., a pediatric neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota, has spent many years studying tantrums and how and why young children have such emotional outbursts. He concluded that “…these outbursts are as a normal biological response to frustration, as a yawn is to tiredness.
He says, “…it is so normal, that one could make a science out of the progression of a tantrum and predict one down to a second.” Infants from eighteen months to four years are hardwired to misbehave. Potegal says that the underdeveloped prefrontal lobe is what allows children to master language and the child’s disagreeable behavior “…is most likely an evolutionary trade off for the sake of human communication.” While this might make parenting more challenging, it is good to know that tantrums actually serve an evolutionary purpose”. Source – via Active Babies Smart Kids
“Help me to do it myself”.
Below I posted “Letter from a toddler” written by a wonderful mum DTRoman. We often hear advice that to understand the child’s perspective, we need to lower down at their level to observe the world from their point of view. This letter is a small window into the child’s world to help us comprehend their perception of reality. It is there to help parents and educators align expectations with reality and make parenting and caring for young children a fulfilling experience.
“Today I woke up and wanted to get dressed by myself but was told, “No, we don’t have time, let me do it.” This made me sad. I wanted to feed myself for breakfast but was told, “No, you’re too messy, let me do it for you. This made me feel frustrated.
I wanted to walk to the car and get in on my own but was told, “No, we need to get going, we don’t have time. Let me do it. This made me cry. I wanted to get out of the car on my own but was told: “No, we don’t have time, let me do it. This made me want to run away.
Later I wanted to play with blocks but was told: “no, not like that, like this…” I decided I didn’t want to play with blocks anymore. I wanted to play with a doll that someone else had, so I took it. I was told “No, don’t do that! You have to share. I’m not sure what I did, but it made me sad. So I cried. I wanted a hug but was told: “No, you’re fine, go play”.
I’m being told it’s time to pick up. I know this because someone keeps saying, “Go pick up your toys.” I am not sure what to do, I am waiting for someone to show me. “What are you doing? Why are you just standing there? Pick up your toys, now!”
I was not allowed to dress myself or move my own body to get to where I needed to go, but now I am being asked to pick things up.
I’m not sure what to do. Is someone supposed to show me how to do this? Where do I start? Where do these things go? I am hearing a lot of words but I do not understand what is being asked of me. I am scared and do not move. I lay down on the floor and cry.
When it was time to eat I wanted to get my own food but was told “no, you’re too little. Let me do it. This made me feel small. I tried to eat the food in front of me but I did not put it there and someone keeps saying “Here, try this, eat this…” and putting things in my face. I didn’t want to eat anymore. This made me want to throw things and cry.
I can’t get down from the table because no one will let me…because I’m too small and I can’t. They keep saying I have to take a bite. This makes me cry more. I’m hungry and frustrated and sad. I’m tired and I need someone to hold me. I do not feel safe or in control. This makes me scared. I cry even more.
I am 2. No one will let me dress myself, no one will let me move my own body where it needs to go, no one will let me attend to my own needs. However, I am expected to know how to share, “listen”, or “wait a minute”. I am expected to know what to say and how to act or handle my emotions. I am expected to sit still or know that if I throw something it might break….But, I do NOT know these things.
I am not allowed to practice my skills of walking, pushing, pulling, zipping, buttoning, pouring, serving, climbing, running, throwing, or doing things that I know I can do. Things that interest me and make me curious, are the things I am NOT allowed to do.
I am 2. I am not terrible…I am frustrated. I am nervous, stressed out, overwhelmed, and confused. I need a hug.”
Exploring Emotions and Feelings - Children's Books and Learning Resources
Compassion and Peace Preschool Pack Montessori Learning Activities
What Makes Us All Alike - Social Emotional Learning
Feelings and Emotions: 30 Card Sorting Activity and My Book of Feelings
20 Character Building Cards
Silent Noisy Sorting Cards - Montessori Printable
My Word of the Month
Behavior Management and Self Regulation - Task Cards
Emotions and Feelings
A to Z Emotions and Feelings - ABC Cards
Chore Chart Editable In PDF Form for Children
Take a deeper dive into feelings with Accepting Emotions as your guide. The powerful images of people come alive in situations to which kids can relate. Using simple, everyday events lets children focus on the emotions, not just the pictures. In this way your child can begin to notice that there are multiple ways people might experience situations.
Using large, colorful, diverse images of peoples’ faces, Everyday Emotions moves beyond simply identifying feelings to introducing the concept that not everyone reacts the same way in an identical situation. As a result it encourages readers to consider why people might respond in ways that are unlike their own. Let’s say you need to go to the doctor. How would you respond? I’m guessing that many people would have a variety of different reactions. You might dread a certain procedure or be seeking relief for an unidentified pain. Thus, your feelings about going to see a physician will likely differ for each circumstance.
Introduce your child to the concept of feelings with this engaging book. Using pictures of real people expressing emotion, it offers a simple way for kids to talk about their feelings. Let’s face it, there is no class that teaches us about our emotions. Yet, feelings are something we experience every day of our life. By validating your child’s feelings (“You look really sad.”) you are letting the child know that expressing their emotions is acceptable.
Max's Box: Letting Go of Negative Feelings
Max's parents give him a very special gift: a tiny, magical box that will hold everything, from his toys to his feelings. Max learns, however, that feelings can't be put away as easily as toys. Each negative emotion he feels—anger, embarrassment, sadness, loneliness—gets added to the box, which grows and grows. Eventually it is so large that it keeps him from doing what he loves, like riding his bike and climbing trees. With some help from his friends and family, Max is able to turn the box into something beautiful and let it go.
Calm: Mindfulness for Kids
Teach your kids how to focus their thoughts and notice the world around them with this fun mindfulness kids activity book.
Mindfulness activities are a great way to teach children about their thoughts and feelings and how to understand them--while having fun at the same time.
Imagine Meditation Kit for Kids - Award-Winning Mindfulness
Imagine Meditation Kit for Kids offer 24 HUGE Mindfulness scripts and Affirmation Cards for kids with content-rich scripts and vibrant illustrations of Guided Imagery meditations for kids, a Mindfulness breathing exercise to practice before any meditation, and an easy navigation aid to find the right card for any feeling or challenge.
Mood Flip Book - Help Kids to Identify and Manage Their Emotions
''How do I feel?'' ''What can I do?'' This simple tool helps youngsters identify their feelings and accept or cope with intense or difficult emotions.
Facial expressions depict a range of feelings and moods -- from happy to sad, friendly to shy, discouraged to angry, and more -- that can be matched to the child's current state.
The backs of each card suggest several strategies relevant to the feeling or mood, including asking for help, deep breathing, talking, finding a quiet place to calm down, and asking for a turn.
Flipbook displays 24 moods or feelings.
Curious Toddler FEELINGS The Little Book of Big Emotions
The Feelings Book introduces seven essential expressions: happy, sad, angry, excited, scared, silly, and proud.
A kids book on feelings, children's books by age 3-5
Join Jade and her father and see how, in a creative, gentle and empowering way, Jade understands what responsibility means in regarding her toys.
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
In My Heart explores a full range of emotions, describing how they feel physically, inside, with language that is lyrical but also direct to empower readers to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.
Thank You Mind: Understanding My Big Feelings on Tricky Days
Thank You Mind also includes meaningful tips for caregivers to help their children learn how awareness, self-compassion, and positive self-talk, can be powerful tools even on the trickiest days.
I Feel Anxious: Children's Picture Book About Overcoming Anxiety For Kids
Ideal for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school students, I Feel Anxiety explores an important topic in a fun and engaging way, making this book a brilliant tool for any parent who wants to foster healthy emotional growth and development in their child.
Kindness Makes Me Stronger: Children’s Book about Magic of Kindness, Empathy and Respect
Having faced a great challenge our little hero manages to teach his new friends the power of kindness, caring and compassion.
Feelings and Dealings: The ABC's of Emotions: An SEL Storybook to Build Emotional Intelligence, Social Skills, and Empathy
Kids discover a wide range of 26 common emotions which builds empathy, self and other awareness, and interpersonal connection.
Can Quilliam Learn to Control His Temper?
It’s never too early to talk about social and emotional resilience. A list of coping skills, as well as teacher and parent discussion materials on these topics, are included in the back of the book.
When I Get Upset
Telling kids to ”CALM DOWN” rarely works. Find a healthy way to solve the issue and frustration.
Find Your Calm
Anxiety is not just a cognitive experience. When children feel anxious, their bodies respond physically to a perceived threat. They need to feel a sense of safety before being able to figure out what to do next.
Listening to My Body
Listening to my Body is an engaging and interactive book that guides children through the practice of naming their feelings and the physical sensations that accompany them.
I Choose to Calm My Anger
Through colorful illustrations and rhythmic rhymes, he learns coping mechanisms on how to deal with big emotions like anger.
I Like To Be Kind
I Like To Be Kind - this is a fun and cheerful story that inspires children to do good deeds. After reading this charming story, the child will learn what kindness is and how any kind act, big or small, can make us happier.
No More Rules
All preschoolers and young kids sometimes break rules or don't listen. As much as kids enjoy more freedom at home or school, they need enough rules to feel safe and secure.
Kindness is my Superpower
With the perfect examples, this book offers, your child will have more understanding for others, accept diversity, thrive in a multicultural and inclusive environment, and show more empathy.
When I Feel Frustrated
Life doesn't always go as planned. Sometimes we fail and feel frustrated. Help kids develop coping strategies to manage frustration and anger.
My Body Sends a Signal
The book includes a cute story that kids can relate to, beautiful illustrations that capture children's attention, calming-down activities for kids, instructions to adults on the follow-up activities, emotions cards, feelings cards, coloring pages and related short stories to teach kids empathy.
The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control
Packed with simple ideas to regulate the emotions and senses, this book will help children tackle difficult feelings head-on and feel awesome and in control!
Let Go of Jealousy
These inviting picture books offer kids a wide range of practical strategies they can use to cope with difficult feelings and situations, such as anger, worry, teasing, and jealousy.
My Attitude of Gratitude
With gentle verses, this book will teach your child to be grateful for what he has, appreciate the warmth of home, and family relationships.