teaching your baby emotionsMany parents can be overwhelmed and confused with the vast array of information on child behavior and child development. Many parents can become overly concerned about their child’s behavior and wonder if it is normal or abnormal. One area of concern is the emotional development of toddlers – how they experience emotions and express their emotions.

One of the most important jobs as parents is to teach our children about feelings and emotions. Because babies and toddlers are not cognitively mature to use language to express themselves, their main form of communication is through sounds and actions. Crying, screaming, hitting, throwing and scratching, all these are various forms of communication.

When it comes to emotions, babies are only beginning to develop their foundation of social-emotional skills, and these skills will build up as they grow older. Here are some key emotional developments goals for your baby.

baby emotional milestone[Click on table for the full image]

Teaching your child about emotions is a great step for developing self-awareness and communications skills. Helping babies to recognize, label and express emotions as they reach 2 years of age will also help reduce their frustrations and the need to hit or act out. However, it is a long process that requires patience. Here are some suggestions you can do to help your toddler be more in tune with their emotions and feelings:

  • Read or tell stories about feelings. Choose brightly colored books with various emotions and point out and label them so child can learn what it looks like
  • Make baby-safe puppets. You can cut pictures out of adult and children faces and put on popsicle sticks and create simple stories using various emotions
  • When a child is upset label and express to them how they feel “Oh you are so sad” or “Oh you are angry not getting the toy” this helps them to identify feelings with words.
  • Looking a mirror with your baby and say “I am so happy. I am happy because I love being here with you!”
  • Help your child recover when feelings get overwhelming. Young toddlers are still developing their emotional regulation skills so helping them to sooth down is still important.
  • Sing songs to practice feelings words “If you are happy and you know stomp your feet”
  • Empathize with your child. Children learn empathy by experiencing it from their care giver. For example “I know you do not want to turn off the TV now. You feel angry about that. But it’s time for bed and sleep is important.”

This article was first published in The New Age Parents Dec / Jan 2013 e-magazine

By Tammy M. Fontana from All in the Counselling

Tammy Fontana, MS, NCC CTRT Sex Therapist (USA) is the founder and mental health therapist for both All in the Family Counselling and Babysleepfairy.com. She has been providing professional counselling and sleep services in Singapore for over 8 years. She has her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counselling (USA) and is a USA National Counsellor Counsellor (NCC) and Certified Choice Therapy Reality Therapist (CTRT). She is also a US trained certified Sex Therapist. She provides evidenced and practiced based solutions to parents, individuals and couples.

You may contact Tammy at tammy@allinthefamilycounselling.com or 9030 7239.

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