Your toddler is more likely to regain her equilibrium when you appear unruffled.

How to Get Toddlers to Use Words Instead of Crying

by Becky Swain

The good news is that learning to communicate with words instead of crying makes life better for both you and your toddler. However, keep in mind that toddlers can get easily overwhelmed because their emerging language skills, newly acquired mobility and a desire for independence compete with poor self-regulation and limited impulse control. By demonstrating loving patience and guidance, you can encourage your toddler to use his language skills instead of crying.

1 Increase the likelihood that your toddler will use language by remaining in control of your behavior -- and reminding your toddler to use language. Your frustration may escalate your toddler’s distress, while your calm demeanor functions to restore your little one's emotional equilibrium, according to the early childhood development website Zero to Three. Your toddler is more likely to use language when she feels calm, so provide a calm model to emulate.

2 Divert your toddler’s attention. It’s not always possible to remove the source of your toddler’s distress. However, parents who use humor to introduce an attractive distraction may find that their distracted toddler is a chatty toddler. For example, fumble and appear baffled as you attempt to place the jacket that your toddler is refusing to wear on her stuffed animal.

3 Establish and adhere to a daily routine for your toddler. Her routine she include a regularly scheduled time for activities such as breakfast, brushing teeth, play, quiet time, a snack, bathing, story time and bed. A daily routine reassures your toddler of expectations in a world that changes with each new exploration adventure. Additionally, toddlers are more likely to experience tearful episodes when they miss a snack, meal or nap.

4 Provide ideas for expressing strong feelings. Toddler tears often originate when your little one feels overwhelmed by big feelings temporarily beyond her comprehension and control. For example, talk about your feelings, label them and discuss how to problem solve when negative feelings persist. Say, "I feel frustrated when I cannot find our keys, but I feel better when I ask for help."

5 Communicate with your toddler using simple language and gestures. Using two modes of communication provides your toddler with an additional avenue of expression without tears. Teaching your young toddler sign language is another option for helping your little one communicate.

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