Help your child identify and express their emotions

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This is the phase where everything is a mess and no one is on time. Your eager, early toddler will constantly remind you with the phrase, “I can do It.” Allowing your toddler to do things themselves provides great learning opportunities but doesn’t fit well into a structured schedule. Build in some flexibility and give grace as your toddler learns autonomy.

The struggle for independence begins and tantrums vary in severity. In their quest for independence, they will make mistakes and will move slower than you want them to. Remember they aren’t just learning new skills; they’re developing the confidence they need to overcome obstacles.

The foundational milestone that begins to formulate in your 2-year-old will be their emotional intelligence. The ability to recognize, name, and express emotions in a healthy way are lifelong skills. Most grown-ups need development in emotional skills as well, so be honest with yourself if you need to do some work first.

Tie their emotions to God's truths.

  • When your child is scared, remind them God is always with them.
  • When your child is angry, teach them the difference between righteous anger and selfish anger.
  • When your child is sad, point to moments when Jesus was sad, too.
  • When your child is happy, thank God for who He is and remind them that He’s the source of all good gifts.

Teach your child an emotional vocabulary. Emotional literacy/vocabulary is a prerequisite to regulation, practicing empathy, resourcefulness, and healthy interpersonal relationships. Be a safe environment for your child’s big feelings. They need your help in learning to express their big feelings.  

How your child is developing 

  • Physically: They’re starting to develop coordination (jumping, throwing, etc.) and may demonstrate hand-preference.
  • Verbally: They use action words and simple sentences, learn how to whisper, and understand more than they communicate.
  • Mentally: They can follow simple two-step instructions and benefit from repetition. They cannot take the perspective of other people; they are concrete thinkers.
  • Emotionally: They may begin to bite, scream, and throw tantrums (as a method of communication). They may begin to name their own emotions as well as recognize the emotions of others.
  • Socially: They play next to (rather than with) friends and glimpses of their personality begin to emerge.

The primary question your child is asking in this phase

"What do I do with all these big feelings?"

Your best next step during this phase

Purchase the Mindful Emotions Toolkit. Utilize these resources in your house (e.g. post the “my emotions” graphic on your fridge and refer to it throughout the day.)

Purchase the ToolKit