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How You Can Help Your Toddler

Read this page to learn how you can help your child learn.

Young children have strong feelings
We all have feelings. Young children especially have very STRONG feelings! But they don't know how to tell you how they feel. It may be hard for your child to learn about important feelings, like sad, mad or happy.

photo of a boy

How you can teach your child about feelings

  • Show your child how you feel.
  • Tell your child how you're feeling. Do it even if you're just feeling tired or silly.
  • Show how you feel with strong gestures, sign language and speech. If speaking is your best way to communicate, you'll probably show more emotion when you speak. Even if your child does not hear the words, this may be the best way to share information.
  • Point out how people are feeling.
    • Point out how people's expressions show what they feel. Do it when:
    • You look at picture books together.
    • You watch programs like Sesame Street together
    • You go outside and observe people together

Be sure to teach your child about feelings when you are both happy and having fun. All children learn better when they are playing and having a good time.

How to help your child communicate

  • Ask your child's Early Intervention teacher to videotape some of your child's classes.
    • Watch these tapes with your child.
    • Your child will enjoy seeing you practice these signs or spoken words in between classes.
  • Write down the words or ideas that you don't know how to communicate. Ask your early intervention teacher what's the best way to say or sign them to your child.
    • The more words or signs you and your child learn together, the better you'll be able to understand your child.
  • When your child is upset, tell her what you observe. Show her the signs for those feelings if you know them.
    • Even if you don't think your child is ready to learn these signs, she may pick them up very quickly. During the toddler years, not all children have the language to tell you what they want. Many parents say that having sign language is a wonderful help to getting through these years.

How to help your child when he becomes upset
crying girl When your child starts getting upset, try these things to help keep both of you calm:

  • Stop and think about how your child might be feeling.
  • Look at the situation through your child's eyes.
  • Listen to your child.
    • Listen with your ears, eyes, heart, everything.

If your child is having a tantrum, it's hard to listen to him. Go back after the tantrum and try to talk to your child about her feelings.

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