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Helping Young Children Manage Anger and Frustration

Around age 2, children have developed good communication skills and begin to assert their own ideas, wishes, likes and dislikes. At the same time, two- and three-year-olds have not developed patience, do not understand waiting and are not yet able to control their emotions.

You can help your young children learn how to handle frustration and anger.

  • Label the feeling – when your child is frustrated or angry, say “It makes you mad when you need to share.”
  • Talk about feelings and ideas for handling feelings – reading picture books where the characters are dealing with struggles and resolving issues is a good way to introduce different ways of responding. Talk about how the characters in the story are feeling and what they are doing to solve problems. Ask your child what other things the characters could do in these situations.
  • Offer ideas for how to manage strong feelings – when you’ve said no and your child is feeling angry; give him some ideas for managing that anger. Suggest he run or jump, take a break and have some alone time, scribble or paint an angry picture. Provide a quiet space for the child to ‘cool off’ when they are angry and need a break.

Help your child have a sense of control over some decisions. Offer choices such as which book to read or what game to play.

Young children may have a hard time delaying what they want or transitioning from one activity to another. Try using a timer to take turns with a favorite toy, to have some quiet time, to know when it is time to leave. Explain to your child ahead of time what’s going to happen and when, say “First we will play this game, and then it will be time to take a nap. We can set the timer so you will know when it is naptime.”

For more information and ideas, visit helpmegrowmn.org.

Portions of this content, developed by Help Me Grow Minnesota, may have previously appeared elsewhere.
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