Your child’s mind will start as a clean slate, but will eventually become a sponge that absorbs everything it can. Despite this milestone, toddlers may still lack the abilitiy to communicate effectively – it is esssential that kids learn these vital skills so they can say what they want and express what they need.
We listed down several ways on how you can help your kids communicate their emotions effectively.
Give them choices
It can be a struggle for toddlers to keep big emotions under control especially when they want something in an instant. Offer choices like “Do you want to eat bread or cookies for a snack?” or “Would you like to wear your blue or red shoes to school today?” Putting them in-charge can make them feel that you value their choices. Letting them decide and abiding by their decision is very important to make them more confident.
Model good emotional expressions
Label feelings for your child as you experience them. Some examples could be, “I feel sad because I didn’t get to eat dinner with you because I got stuck in traffic”, “I am so happy because your nanny told me that you finished your meal all by yourself. You must be very proud of yourself.” When you show your child how to label what they feel, it would help them express themselves better.
Read books that talk about emotions
Introduce your toddlers to picture books that talk about feelings like The Way I Feel by Janan Cain. The more they see emotions from the characters in the books, the easier they’d be able to identify and express feelings.
Use creative play
Try imaginative play using puppets and toys or outdoor games where they can run, roll and tumble around when they’re feeling happy or angry. Another option is the messy play with mud, sand or paint. Your toddler can happily slap sand and mud around, or make big and small strokes when painting depending on how they’re feeling at the moment.
Try sign language
At around 6 months old, parents should begin signing words to their children. Create signs to represent words such as milk, more, eat, bed, hungry, or finished. You can also teach a sign to say sick, hot or cold so you will know right away when they are not feeling well. When your kids are sick with fever, make no mistake. Choose the right fever medicine and administer to your child.
It takes time and a lot of patience to help your child express their feelings. The key is to continuously model, guide and correct them in the natural setting in their day-to-day activities such as when playing games, eating dinner or riding in the car. The more they practice, the faster they can turn it into a habit.