3 STRATEGIES TO DEAL WITH BIG EMOTIONS | Eleanor is almost 2 and she’s starting to experience some big toddler feelings. Whenever she’s having a “moment”, Colin and I work hard to keep calm and regulated. If we become flustered or overwhelmed, it only creates more chaos and confusion for Eleanor. It isn’t always easy. Being
a parent is hard and it can be difficult to stay level. We try our best to employ 3 main strategies
to help her work through her emotions.
1. Identify, validate, set the boundary:
First, we help Eleanor identify her emotion and validate it, while keeping a firm boundary.
For example, “I know you feel sad that we have to leave the park. It’s tough to stop
playing, but we have to go home now and get ready for dinner. We’re having tacos
2. Calming bin:
We get out the “calming bin” when Eleanor is having a tough time. It has a couple of her
favorite books (highly recommend Little Monkey Calms Down!), some fidget toys, a
stuffed animal, and a puzzle. The items facilitate conversation around feelings, but they
also serve as calming distractions.
3. Give options:
It seems like many times when Eleanor is frustrated, it’s because she doesn’t feel like
she has any control. When she doesn’t want to do something, we give her two options,
so she feels like she has a vote. For example, “It’s time to get out of the bathtub. I know
it’s hard to get out when you’re having so much fun, but we have to get ready for
bedtime. Which pajamas do you want to wear? Dinosaurs or bunnies?”
These approaches can be challenging – especially when we’re in public and baby sister is
screaming (whew!) – but when we’re successful, they make a big difference in regulating
Eleanor’s emotions and preventing meltdowns. It’s important to us that Eleanor feels heard and
supported. Using these strategies allows us to maximize love and manage stress, which overall
helps us to feel more connected as a family.
By Lizzy Tahsuda