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Calm mama: The 2 techniques that teach toddlers to handle their emotions

Two go-to moves for helping your tot express difficult feelings.

Calm mama: The 2 techniques that teach toddlers to handle their emotions

As a child you may have tripped or fallen and were told “don't cry" just as you were about to let out your tears.


Now, as adults many of us repeat this phrase to our partners, children, or loved ones.

Your little one's emotional expression is growing by leaps and bounds.

She may be expressing separation anxiety, fear of the dreaded vacuum cleaner, or fascination as she gazes at her reflection in the mirror.

She may express many of her newfound emotions by crying loudly—and you may cringe in response.

But what is so wrong with crying? What perceptions of crying have you developed? Does crying mean you are “weak," or are you afraid it will make others uncomfortable if you cry? Do you say “don't cry" because you are uncomfortable seeing someone express sadness or because you would not be sure how to handle it if they did cry? As you can imagine there are many feelings that could come up around this. But what message are we giving our children when we tell them to hold back their tears?

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When we tell someone not to do something, it is typically because it is seen as unacceptable (for whatever reason). So, we are telling our children that crying is not acceptable, when, in fact, it is a normal and helpful response to expressing sadness. In addition to the message we are sending our children, we are also encouraging them to hold back or even stifle their feelings. This is a pattern that could follow them into their adult years and hinder their relationships and personal growth. It can be difficult to break free from perceptions we develop about feelings, whether they are about sadness, anger, frustration, or insecurity.

To encourage your child's expression of feelings, there are two changes that you can make to help your child express their feelings in an effective manner—

Reflect back your child's feelings.

Acknowledge and validate your child's emotions.

For instance, if you notice your child pouting when you pick them up from school, take notice and say, “It seems like you're upset. I'm here, if you want to talk about it." Your child will be encouraged to label his or her feelings and appreciate that you are taking notice of them and showing support.

Notice your own feelings and do something about them.

When you notice yourself becoming upset you can say, “I am starting to get frustrated. I am going to take a 10 minute break in my room."

You will be modeling for your child how you would want them to manage anger, while also taking care of yourself so you can be more effective in solving whatever issues arise.

As with any other parenting practice, encouraging your child's emotional expression requires practice, practice, practice! It's okay to fumble through and make a few mistakes along the way.

You are human, too.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

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    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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    Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

    Thank you for understanding. ❤️

    In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

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    Some of Jennifer Garner's Instagram followers say a pregnancy announcement, but...it's just a cute pumpkin.

    "When you and your jack-o'lantern share a vibe," she captioned this selfie.

    The pregnancy comments started rolling in quickly.

    "I thought this was a pregnancy announcement for a hot second 😭😂" one commenter wrote.

    Another asked: "What what?!?!? You're pregnant?!?!?"

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