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Helping Your Toddler Understand Feelings

Help your child understand--and deal with--her changing emotions.
mom hugging happy son Emotional Rollercoaster

Between 2 and 3 years, your child is making giant leaps in terms of labeling and understanding his feelings, but his ability to manage his ups and downs is shaky at best. Your job during this critical stage of emotional development is to have lots of conversations about feelings: his, yours, and Thomas the Tank Engine's. "Kids whose parents talk to them about emotions have better social skills," says Kristin Lagattuta, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. Once you've opened a dialogue, you can work out ways of anticipating situations that might spark various feelings and come up with acceptable forms of self-expression.