By Raising Children Network
Print Email

Along with empathy and pride, children start feeling frustrated when they reach toddlerhood. And it’s an emotion you’ll be hearing a lot about!

Toddler looking guilty

What to expect

Your toddler will probably:

  • begin to feel embarrassment, empathy and envy some time between 1½-2 years
  • become more aware of being an individual between 1-2 years
  • begin to be more independent from parents
  • start taking turns in games from between 1-2 years
  • experience the emotions of guilt, shame or pride at about three years
  • struggle to keep his emotions in check, possibly resulting in occasional tantrums
  • want to be in control and do things without help.

Your toddler will begin to compare her behaviour to others. She may start to feel and show pride at times, exclaiming ‘I did it!’ after building a tower of blocks.

By the age of three, most toddlers start to feel emotions such as guilt and shame. Your toddler will need lots of reassurance and support to help him understand these new emotions.

Your toddler is also learning to come to grips with a new emotion: frustration. Your child is likely to:

  • become frustrated – and voice this with gusto – when she doesn’t get her way
  • just not understand why he can’t have what he wants, when he wants it
  • be quite bossy about what he does want
  • find it hard to wait for things or stop playing when it’s time to go home.

Play ideas to encourage the exploration of feelings

Play is one of the best ways for young children to express and manage their feelings. Great ways to encourage this include:

  • finding opportunities for playing and sharing with other similar-aged children
  • letting your toddler enjoy messy play with sand, mud or paints. The sensations involved in messy play – of slimy mud or coarse sand – can help your toddler get used to different sensations and feelings, and can be a great outlet for emotions
  • giving your toddler the chance to act out feelings through imaginative play, with puppets, toys or role-modelling
  • going to a park or open space where your toddler can run, tumble or roll around to let off steam.
All children develop at their own pace. If you’re concerned about any aspect of your child’s development, it’s a good idea to visit your health professional.
  • Add to favourites
  • Create pdf
  • Print
  • Email
  • Last Updated 24-12-2010
  • Last Reviewed 02-11-2009
  • Manning-Morton, J., & Thorp, M. (2003). Key times for play: The first three years. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

    Saarni, C., Mumme, D.L., & Campos, J.J. (1998). Emotional development: Action, communication, and understanding. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (eds), Handbook of child psychology, vol 3: Social, emotional and personality development (5th ed). New York: Wiley & Sons.