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Five Ways to Cope Effectively with Toddlers
By Dr. Paul Holinger
What Babies Say Before They Can Talk

Toddlers can be challenging but understanding why they act and react as they do can make the daily interactions with one far more pleasant and productive. Here are five tips to a happier and healthier toddler.

Why Do Toddlers Whine?

Toddlers "whine" because they are expressing their feelings of distress and anger. The trick is to figure out what they are distressed and angry about, and then be attentive to that. One can also help them turn the "whine" into a more productive communication: "Please tell me what you are distressed about . . . the whining does not give me much information. Tell me what is going wrong and I can help fix it."

Parents: please remember that whining---ie distress and anger---are SOS signals. Your toddler is saying "something is wrong here."

Why do Toddlers have temper Tantrums?

Toddlers have temper tantrums because they are expressing their anger. The trick is to label the feelings ("you really are angry!"---ie put words to the feelings) and then talk about what they are angry about. The keys are: listen and put words to feelings and talk!

How Should I Talk to My Toddler?

Talk to your toddler in an adult manner. Toddlers are much smarter than we used to think. They learn at a tremendous rate. Thus, put feelings into words, and label your own and their feelings with words. Listen and talk! And keep the decibels down . . . don't start raising your voice.

How Can I Help My Toddler Develop Healthy Self-Esteem?

There are two major issues with self-esteem:

First: Listen to your toddler and figure out what he/she is passionate about---and validate this feeling of interest, and help him/her run with it.

Second: Praise your toddler when he/she does something positive. Be realistic: false praise is not so helpful. Try to find something realistically positive . . . four praises for every one criticism. If the criticisms and negativity overwhelm the praise, erosion of the healthy sense of self will follow.

What Are Common Reaction to Stress in Toddlers?

The common reactions to stress in the toddler are the feelings of distress, anger and shame. Keep thinking "what are the feelings" in all these situations . . . then put those feelings into words.

About the Author:
Paul HolingerPaul C. Holinger, MD, MPH, is Dean of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, Training/Supervising Analyst and Child/Adolescent Supervising Analyst, and a Founder of the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at the Chicago Institute. He is also Professor of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Holinger is Board Certified in Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and Certified in Psychoanalysis (adult and child/adolescent) by the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. His best selling book, What Babies Say Before They Can Talk, has been translated into several languages. For more information visit www.paulcholinger.com.

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