5 Tips for communicating with your toddler

By | October 25, 2013 | Motherhood & Family

5 Tips for communicating with your toddler © theMomiverse | Article by Paul C. Holinger, MD

Toddlers can be challenging, but understanding why they act and react as they do can make the daily interactions with one far more pleasant and productive. Here are five tips to a happier and healthier toddler.

Why do toddlers whine?

Toddlers whine because they are expressing feelings of distress and anger. The trick is to figure out what they are distressed and angry about, and then be attentive to that. Parents can also help them turn the whine into more productive communication: “Please tell me what you’re distressed about. Whining doesn’t give me much information. Tell me what’s wrong and I can help you fix it.”

Parents: Please remember that whining (distress and anger) are SOS signals. Your toddler is saying, “Something is wrong here.”

Why do toddlers have temper tantrums?

Toddlers have temper tantrums because they are expressing their anger. The trick is to label the feelings, or put words to the feelings. For example, say to your toddler, “You’re really angry!” and then talk about what your toddler is angry about.

The keys are to listen, put words to feelings, and talk.

How should I talk to my toddler?

Talk to your toddler in an adult manner. Toddlers are much smarter than we used to think. They learn at a tremendous rate. Thus, put feelings into words and label your own and their feelings with words. Listen and talk, but keep the decibels down. Don’t raise your voice.

How can I help my toddler develop healthy self-esteem?

There are two major issues with self-esteem. First, listen to your toddler and figure out what she is passionate about. Validate these feelings of interest and help her run with it.

Second, praise your toddler when he does something positive. Be realistic: False praise is not so helpful. Try to find something realistically positive. Use the guideline of four praises for every one criticism. If the criticisms and negativity overwhelm the praise, erosion of the toddler’s healthy sense of self will follow.

What are common reactions to stress in toddlers?

Toddlers commonly react to stress with feelings of distress, anger and shame. Think about what your toddler is feeling and help him put these feelings into words.

What has helped you to calm your toddler and help them use their words?

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Paul C. Holinger, MD

Paul C. Holinger, MD, MPH, is Dean of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, Training/Supervising Analyst and Child/Adolescent Supervising Analyst, and a Founder of the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at the Chicago Institute. He is also Professor of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Holinger is Board Certified in Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and Certified in Psychoanalysis (adult and child/adolescent) by the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. His best selling book, What Babies Say Before They Can Talk, has been translated into several languages. For more information visit PaulCHolinger.com.

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