Communication Frustrations with Toddlers

Communication Frustrations with ToddlersIt’s an exciting moment when your child starts to say their first words. For my daughter, it was “momma.” Then “daddy” came along. By her 18 month check-up, however, she wasn’t talking as much as I thought she should be. My pediatrician calmed my fears, and now at 26 months, she talks my ear off. However, there have definitely been some frustrating moments with communication.

Most toddlers babble. I am going to say I will definitely miss the baby babble once it’s gone completely. Words like pink, Teddy, eat, Mimi, and go are now my daughter’s favorite things to throw in between babble. While it is frustrating to try to understand this babble, it is also very frustrating for toddlers when we don’t get it.

Toddlers have a big, new world in front of them. Sadly, many times they become overcome with emotions and frustrations and communicate these feelings in a negative way.

Common Ways Toddlers Show Frustration

Crying: This one seems simple enough, but many toddlers simply cry when they cannot express what they need or want to an adult. It’s important to “tolerate the tears.” Let your child express themselves and get out the tears. Then, find a way to comfort them.  Cuddle, nurse, or simply curl up on the couch together and read a book that makes them happy. Have a few toys close by that make them happy and use the moment to talk about the toys.

Hitting and Biting: This is a tough one for me to write about. My sweet girl has had her issues with hitting. Most often, toddlers hit when they can’t express what they need or want. Hands are communication tools for toddlers. It’s important to show your toddler how to express themselves without using aggression. Hands Are Not For Hitting is a fun board book my daughter loves. It teaches a great lesson, too!

Sometimes they simply need your attention. Respond with a soft voice, and show them how to touch gently. Many toddlers also go through a biting phase. Remember your child is trying to communicate something to you. Use this as a teachable moment. Responding with patience is not easy.

I think it’s important to remember that toddlers are little sponges. They are learning how to communicate with adults in a big, new world. They may become frustrated and angry while trying to communicate, but it is our job as moms to help them grow, learn, and understand their emotions.

I definitely have days where I don’t understand everything my daughter is trying to tell me. For example, she says “play” and “potty” almost exactly the same. I often upset her by asking her to go potty when she simply wants to play with her dollhouse.  But, I’m learning that we both communicate better when mommy isn’t frustrated and she’s free to use her own precious little voice. Sweetest sound ever.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana. She is learning new things every day from her kiddos.


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