You are here

Too young to feel guilty?

Good thing they're cute, because toddlers pull all kinds of stunts without experiencing a moment's remorse. Or do they? Actually, your child may be feeling her first glimmers of guilt right about now, says Maureen O'Brien, Ph.D., author of Watch Me Grow: Im One, Two, Three.

Some sure signs of a guilt-stricken toddler: She won't look you in the eye, slinks away -- or gets sad if she senses you're disappointed in her. Eighteen-month-old Lydia Toy recently burst into tears when her mother, Jessica, scolded her for swatting her grandmother's face. "She kept burying her head in my shoulder!' says the Ohio Township, PA, mom.

To help your toddler, assign a name to what she's feeling, even if "guilt" is too complicated ("You feel bad you took the cookie from the baby"). Next, help her make it better ("Let's give it back"). Last, note the positive effects of making things right ("Good job! The baby's smiling again!"). Then move on: Getting over guilt is as important as learning to cope with it.

comments