Being a toddler is actually really hard work emotionally. Or at least, it seems that way. My daughter seems to feel more emotions in a minute than I do all day. And she feels them in the most intense way possible. Can't reach something? Utter rage. Being told no to having the TV on? Devastation. When something upsets her, she will drop to the floor and cry as if her world has ended.
I understand that this only gets more intense as they get older, which is, you know, fun. It is a parents' job to basically teach your child to react to life's events without throwing an absolute wobbler.
There are lots of different parenting styles you can adopt to deal with this, ranging on a kind of sliding scale of strictness:
'Oh, don't cry, precious darling! Have whatever you like! You're too special to feel sadness'
'You can't have THAT, no, but you can have a biscuit. PLEASE have a biscuit instead of a tantrum or I'm going to cry myself'
'Supernanny ain't got nothing on me, kid. You can pack your bags and move into the naughty step for all I care. YOUR TEARS WON'T WORK ON ME!'
Apparently the best thing to do is stay calm and discuss things with a child, although, as any nursery worker will tell you, trying to reason with a raging toddler is a bit like trying to reason with a rampaging gorilla, but hey ho.
Children need to learn to understand the emotions that they feel and how to express them appropriately. Enter:
Pip and Posy are a series of books created by Axel 'I-created-the-Gruffalo' Scheffler. Each book deals with an issue a toddler might face and how the situation resolves itself. These are very toddler-friendly problems (for example, what happens if a friend wants to share your scooter?) and they are really sweet and gentle.
In The Big Balloon, things start off happily enough:
But they quickly go pear-shaped ...
(Axel Scheffler's illustrations are quirky and gorgeous as usual)
I won't go into what happens next, but, well, this picture speaks for itself:
But fear not! Friends are there to cheer us up and to start new games:
They all lived happily ever after. And so on.
Anyway, I love the Pip and Posy books and when we had this one from the library my daughter requested it again (and again, and again). They are just the right length for young toddlers (Jellybean is not quite two) and I can see that they would be a good conversation starter for older children about emotions and how to deal with them.
So that's book one! Pip and Posy are published by Nosy Crow. The website has lots of free things to do, so go and check that out.
Moving onto book two:
If you have a CBeebies fan in your house you may have already come across Bing. Bing is the creation of Ted Dewan, and the original books look a bit different to the one that we have:
Bing was created to tell stories about the ups and downs of toddler life from the perspective of Bing Bunny and his carer, Flop. They have since been turned into a TV show and lots of merchandise (I have my eye on a talking Bing for Jellybean's Christmas present). If you go on the Bing website, they explain really nicely the concept behind Bing, but it is basically this: the show and books aim to use the power of story to explore strategies for toddlers (and their accompanying adults!) to deal with emotional situations in everyday life.
The TV show is lovely. It is gentle, non-judgmental, and sweet. I watch Flop, Bing's carer, closely for strategies on how to deal with my own emotional child, because he is so calm and peaceful about everything. (In fact, there have been a few times now when my daughter has cried over sharing a toy or something and I've found myself thinking 'Okay Megan: keep calm. What would Flop do?'. Is that a good thing?!)
Seriously though. Flop is like the ultimate guru of toddler management.
Look at him. He's so Zen!
Be warned: a side effect of watching this programme is that you find yourself adding the phrase 'It's a Bing Thing!' to EVERYTHING whether it is appropriate or not ('Drinking Pimms. It's a Bing Thing!')
Bing is really lovely and I recommend it if you're looking for something new for your child to become mildly obsessed with (step aside, Peppa Pig). The book I have is based on an episode of the TV show and it is Jellybean's most-requested bedtime book. Sometimes in the day she starts looking for it too ('Mim book, Mama?')
It also comes with stickers. It's like they know toddlers or something.
You can buy Bing books from all good bookshops, but I'm going to link you to their website for more info.
There we have it! Two little tools to add to your parenting-a-toddler-kit (you know, to go alongside the 'distract with snacks' strategy).
Do you know of any other books that deal with the many feelings of toddlers? Let me know! :)