Baffled by what's behind your toddler's tantrums or random bursts of excitement? Imagine how frustrated he is that he can't tell you! But starting at 18 months, you can teach your child to verbalize his feelings, says Brooklyn-based clinical psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D., so he'll eventually say "I'm mad" rather than launch his toys. Put feelings in tot-friendly terms by:
Playing Second That Emotion
Make faces at each other, and then guess what feeling is being expressed. "Playing is kids' natural way of understanding and exploring the world," says Markham.
Adapting "If You're Happy and You Know It"
Try lyric substitutions, such as "If you're mad and you know it, stomp your foot," "If you're sad and you know it, cry a tear," or "If you're tired and you know it, give a yawn."
Act out different emotions with stuffed animals or simply play pretend. for example, you can make believe that a rubber ducky is afraid of the bathtub, and then have the mama duck reassure her baby that it's okay.