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Toddler Anger and How to Redirect It - Dreams and Caffeine

Toddler Anger and How to Redirect It

Before children, I wouldn’t have thought a post would exist about adorable & funny toddlers and anger.  However, as a parent in the trenches of toddlerhood, toddler anger and I have become BFFs.  I have been blessed with two amazing children that are sweet, loving, cute, and super funny.  They are also both strong-willed and determined.  Once something doesn’t go according to their plan… toddler anger rears its ugly head.  Sometimes, it’s not a huge deal and it is easy to redirect.  Then there are other times, that is not the case.  So, with a ton of trials and FAILS, I have come up with two techniques that work very well for my two kiddos, and thought I would pass them along to you.

1.  Give a Hug

Stop everything, get down at your child’s level and give them a big hug.  I am talking about a full contact, full of love and understanding, kind of hug.  Sometimes, especially when a toddler is emotionally charged, they just need to stop and see that you are not the enemy and that you are trying to help them.  It also stops the situation from escalating.  Once things have settled down, you can talk with your child about their feelings and provide options to help them control their emotions.  Of course, consider the child’s age and abilities when providing options.

The hug option has served me well, especially when my daughter had a limited vocabulary.  It was like a reset button to the situation and then we could give it another go, maybe from a different angle.  As she has gotten older, and her vocabulary and cognitive abilities have increased, I tend to go with the second technique first, and then end with hug to keep things positive.

2.  Smell Your Flower, Blow Out the Candle

Yes, that is what I meant to type.  This is a breathing exercise to help relax and calm your child.  I was introduced to this technique by a teacher I worked with.  Basically, the phrase, “smell your flower, blow out the candle,” is used to help the child understand what you need them to do.  A lot of children at this age won’t understand if you just simply tell them to relax and breath.  However, by utilizing the statement above, they have a better understanding of what you’re asking them to do.

I suggest getting down at their level and demonstrating.  Take your hand and hold it under your nose (like you are holding a flower) and take a deep breath in to “smell the flower,” then move that same hand out in front of your face (like you are holding a candle) and “blow out the candle” to exhale.  Have the child do this exercise three times or until the child is calm.  Once the anger is under control, and the child is calm enough to talk, proceed to discuss the situation that just occurred.  Then I end with a hug!

Research & Results

These two techniques have served me well with dealing with toddler anger.  The American Psychological Association states that, “Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help soothe angry feelings,” (http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/controlling-anger.aspx).

We all know that when we’re angry it’s because something is not going as we wanted it to.  As adults, it is easier to control our feelings when this happens, because we have had years of practice.  A toddler, on the other hand, is just learning how to navigate these new situations and feelings, so it can sometimes be overwhelming.  Remember, it is important for you as the parent to stay calm and know this is not about you.  It is your responsibility to guide your child through their emotions and help them learn to deal with them.  The earlier a child learns to deal with their emotions, the better equipped they will be to deal with life’s ups and downs.

I hope this helps those in the trenches and maybe prepares those getting ready to enter.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope your week is off to a great start!

Cheers,
Lisa