Your Temperamental 2-Year-Old: How to handle a toddler's intense emotions

Consider your amazing 2-year-old: Excitable, engaging, exasperating and extremely curious. Put all this energy into a small person who hasn't yet learned to wait or control his emotions and what do you get? An amazed?and often exhausted?parent.

As adults, we experience life completely differently than 2-year-olds. We rationalize, complain about, distract ourselves from, and deny destructive or negative feelings. We can wait. We can set priorities and predict, think abstractly and understand that "yesterday" doesn't necessarily mean everything that happened before today. These are essential life skills?yet still to be grasped by your amazing 2-year-old. No wonder getting out of control can be a regular event for him or her.

The challenge is to remain the adult?stay in control, with the big picture in mind. Here are ways you can help this happen:

1. Realize your 2-year-old is scared by the ferocious intensity of her emotions.
Strong feelings scare adults, too, but we've found ways to deal with them constructively. Your 2-year-old feels the same things you do?love, anger, sadness, fear, happiness?but with intense, unfiltered force. Thus, your child desperately needs your strong support and calm assurance. He or she needs to hear your voice and feel your touch.

2. Avoid seeing frustrating situations as power struggles.
When a 2-year-old acts up, it's tempting to rule with greater force. But by understanding your child's actual abilities, it's possible to respond more compassionately to your son's or daughter's needs. Realistic expectations about 2-year-olds will serve both of you well.

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May 25

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