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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?

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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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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