Anger in Toddlers

by Amber Keefer

If your toddler gets impatient and upset when he doesn't immediately get his way, it's only natural for him to get angry. Despite your own rising frustrations, you have to remember that your little guy hasn't yet learned how to control his emotions. While it's OK to let your toddler get angry, you need to teach him appropriate ways to deal with his anger. Success starts with letting him see you curb your own heightened exasperation.

Your toddler might use anger to vent her frustrations when she's feeling frightened, anxious or ignored. She might even get upset when she's bored or over-stimulated. But no matter what the reason for her fury, you need to be careful how you respond when your child is trying to get your attention. It’s times like these when you need to keep your own emotions in check and offer more comfort and support. Be consistent in how you handle your little one's pent-up frustration. Let her know that while it’s OK for her to get mad, it’s not OK to scream or strike out at others just because she's feeling in an ugly mood. The website AskDrSears underscores that anger is a normal response, but it's what we do with it that can lead to problems.

Individual temperament might be why your toddler seems to get angry more often than other kids his same age. If your child is high-strung, he might get upset at even the little things and likely reacts more strongly to conditions he finds stressful. Getting in tune with your child’s temperament can help you understand why your toddler behaves and reacts in the ways he does, according to a What Works Brief developed by the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at Vanderbilt University.

Calming a child who is angry isn't easy. But when your toddler is upset, just your physical presence can be enough to soothe her anxiety and make her feel loved. Toddlers learn by imitating, so set a good example, points out Parenting.com. Teach your child positive coping skills by letting her see you practice self-control. When she's upset, talk to her in a calm voice and keep your own temper under control. Use pretend play and role-playing games to teach your toddler better ways to react to whatever upsets her.

Don't take it personally if your little one kicks, screams or hits when he gets angry. Before your child has a chance to express his anger in physical ways, try to prevent his frustration from escalating into a full-blown temper tantrum. Keep in mind that kids this age tend to act out when they’re tired or hungry, points out Helen Williams, family counselor and editor of Consistent Parenting Advice.com. Besides establishing regular mealtime and bedtime routines, watch for signs that your toddler might be feeling overwhelmed by what’s going on around him. Crying or clinging can be a sign that he's on the verge of an emotional meltdown. If you sense a storm brewing, try reassuring your toddler by giving him extra attention to help make him feel more safe and secure.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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