Face the Feelings

“Share with Michael.”
“Be nice.”
“Mommy is tired.”

Everyone wants their child to understand feelings, share their favorite toys and to be okay with not having another cookie.  Guess what, it will take longer than you think.  Here is a quick run down of when a few of these skills develop.

  • birth-6 months: express feelings almost involuntarily.  Newborns will cry out when they are hungry, and smile when they are happy.  Their emotions are practically impulsive, however, even infant begins to understand the connection of “If I cry, mom will come”.  You are their safety!
  • 6 months-1 year:
    • enjoys social interaction
    • responds to praise
    • clings to parent in group settings
    • upset when a toy is taken away
  • 1-2 years:
    • interested in other children
    • but not so much playing together
    • express negative feelings ie. temper tantrums
  • 3-4 years:
    • shares toys and takes turns with assistance


Bottom line: Don’t expect your baby to solve Einstein’s equations when he hasn’t even had Algebra I.

So just how do you help your child through these tough times? Play!  Model turn taking and talk out your feelings.  “Look how happy Daddy is happy because you gave him the block.”  “You are mad because Mommy had to put away the bubbles, let’s pretend we are bubbles and pop up and down.”  Just like teaching baby to poke with a fork or taking steps, if you do it over and over again, they will begin to form memories and use strategies when the real thing comes up.

Now, go play!


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