Monday, June 20, 2011

Mad, mad boy: toddlers & emotions

Nate surprised me the other day by telling me he was mad. Over and over again. And not so much telling, as yelling. It wasn't surprising that he was mad (I was attempting to brush his teeth), but it surprised me that he's already starting to label his emotions correctly. Mad isn't a word we use a lot around the house (I prefer more colorful words when I lose my temper); I think he grasped the concept from this Sesame Street parody of Mad Men. I explained to him that it was okay to be mad, and it was okay to say he was mad, but it was not okay to hit or yell at Mommy. Ah, bratty toddler moments!

I realized that it was time to come up with some better ways for Nate to express his anger, so I taught him expletives in several foreign languages. Okay, no I didn't. But I did look up the ASL sign for "mad." Shockingly, it wasn't in the Baby Signing 1-2-3 book.  Here is Nate attempting to replicate it:


But if Nate really was angry, I don't know how cathartic signing MAD would be. It was nice of him to refrain from pointing out the lameness of the idea. I also suggested "BODY F'AMMING" a pillow (he's really into body slamming... future wrestling star perhaps? Awe-some!) but that's not practical if he's in his high chair or out in public. Dave came up with teaching him deep breaths, which I thought was pretty brilliant.

When Nate and I were walking to get Italian ices the other day, Nate jumped out of his skin when an incredibly loud motorcycle tore by. Before I could say anything he turned to me and said, "SCARE! MODO-CYCLE SCARE NATE!" It made a big impression, because he's been talking about it ever since. He laughs and recounts that "FAS' MODO-CYCLE SCARE" several times a day. Crazy times!

I had been planning to focus on emotions and even thought about getting some more books on emotions (the only one we have is Bear Feels Scared), but it seems Nate is picking it up as we go without a formal lesson. Maybe if I'm lucky he'll start noticing, "MOMMY ANXIOUS!"

What do you tell your children to do when they're angry? Can you recommend any resources for discussing emotions?

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