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Developing Your Child's Emotional Toolbox

 In my house there's been a lot of talk about feelings and how to handle our emotions. With a toddler, this is an understandable everyday occurrence. I try to display, show, and discuss different ways to not let the big emotions take you over by giving examples of what we can do when we feel them building up. Whether it's in having to try something again or in a new way, an unexpected screaming and crying moment, or even one I can see coming, I try to give tips when things are calm & attempt to remind calmly in the moment. In the moment, learning the new tactic or figuring it out can be difficult. The emotions may be too strong to learn something new. That's why we talk about it even when things are calm. It's all about developing an emotional toolbox. Recently, I saw a piece of my conversations getting through. My toddler began to get frustrated, wanting to do something else as she was finishing breakfast. I calmly let her know, "You have to get down first. Here's what we'll do: let's wipe your hands, get down, and you can go play with the toy." To my surprise, she was able to pause, calm herself down before the frustration overwhelmed her and said, "That sounds like a good plan." Then, we took it step by step as I reminded her of our "checklist" along the way. When she was having fun playing with the desired toy, I was so proud and told her so. I also told her why she should be proud of herself. I considered it a win. Then, out of the blue, another amazing moment happened today. Once again, she ready to leave the table to play and felt the emotions rising up. She looked at me and said, "The feelings are getting bigger; let's countdown (she also loves countdowns)." So, I thanked her for telling me so I could help and said "Let's do it." We began to count down while making it fun and kind of singsongy. When we got to 0, she said, "Let's take a deep breath." Once again, I acknowledged her wonderful idea, and we breathed together. Maybe the snow outside was working magic, but I'll take it. It may not always seem like the things we say get through to our children, especially when talking to toddlers. But remember, it's all a way to add tools to their emotional toolbox. And hopefully, one day, and forever after (🤞🏽🤞🏽🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿), they will be able to reach in that toolbox and pull out a technique before the screams or tears come. So, keep talking it through, keep giving tools, and, more importantly, keep giving yourself some grace. In these emotional moments, we are trying to give them tools while maintaining our composure by using what's in our toolbox. It can be a stressful learning experience for all parties, and one day, through our patience and deep breathing, they may pull out a tool we've taught them that may just help us too. Ways and tactics to demonstrate: While playing with toys Deep breathing Counting down Singing a song Blowing up a pretend balloon Blowing out a pretend candle Getting a stuffy or comfort item Sitting in a calm down area  Wishing you calm and smooth days! 

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