Preschoolers 101: Emotions

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend celebrating the Father’s in your life!  We had a lovely day yesterday… breakfast at Noshville Deli (one of our all time favorite breakfast spots), feeding the ducks and pictures in the park, a great time of learning at church, and to top it all off, Tom took Abby and Luke to see this.

Today we are picking up where we left off in our Preschoolers 101 series.  In the last post Heather told us a bit about what we can expect from our three year olds developmentally, as far as academics and motor skills go.  This week we’ll learn more about our little one’s emotions.  Here’s Heather…    

I think we all know, as mothers, and as humans for that matter, that everyone is different.  and that knowledge is reinforced even more once we have children.  Then we have a second child, or third, or more!  It’s so important for us to remember that our children are different.  They are different in the way they look, in what they like or dislike, in the way they behave, and in the way they learn.  No matter how many children you have, it’s so valuable to discover what is “normal” for your child and let that guide you in your interactions, your teachings, and just life in general.

Most preschool-aged children are still figuring out their emotions.  While they have a wide range of emotions, they might not quiet understand them all yet.  That can definitely be where some icky behavior shows up.  There is definitely a difference between being two years old, when a child’s feelings and emotions outweighed his language skills (making things very frustrating for him) and three years old when the language skills have improved dramatically.  At three years old you might not see the meltdowns that come out of nowhere  quite as frequently.  The ones that are happening now are most likely a little more calculated.  A child at this age most likely won’t be okay one minute and then in tears the next…it’s more likely that you can see it coming.  Something is not going the way she imagined it, talking is no longer working, and then the crying ensues.  What is great is that now, once the storm passes, the ability to have a conversation about it exists.  

In the classroom, I’ve found that a child will make it all day at school cool, calm, and collected.  Then I hear from the parents that he has a really difficult time at home.  So why is he so “well behaved” at school, but not at home?  Well, most likely, there are several reasons.

At home he is surrounded by people he trusts… really, truly, trusts… and who better to fully express himself in front of?  If not you, than who?  It’s most likely not because he’s trying to misbehave.  It’s more likely that he’s kept himself in check all day for so many people.  Now he’s surrounded by love and just needs to let go.  

Also, a child of this age is learning SO much!  All of this new information is piling up in his little mind and he’s the only one who can sort it out!  What can seem to us as a day of play he sees as construction, mathematics, exercise…almost constant input.  Who wouldn’t need to decompress after a day of so called “play?”

Lastly, kids are kids.  They are still working on what we adults deem as “appropriate behavior.”  Their impulse control is not quite up to par with ours yet.  Even though we think it’s not appropriate to scream about being unhappy (because we can so neatly keep it inside), they only know to be honest to themselves and their emotions, which is actually quite healthy when you think about it!  

There are some great books that touch on the subject of emotions.  I’ve found them invaluable in helping children understand what they’re feeling.  By putting a name to what they’re feeling it gives them some power over what can otherwise be a very unpowerful situation for them…check out: 

Today I Feel Silly…and Other Moods that Make My Day 
by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

 What Are You So Grumpy About? by Tom Lichtenheld

Behaviors can be tricky things.  In the upcoming posts I’ll talk about strategies for working with your child in some of life’s sticky situations…before, after, and during some of these behaviors all children go through :)

Don’t you appreciate Heather’s ability to explain such complex things in such an understandable way?  Thanks, Heather!  I’m am really looking forward to getting down to the nitty gritty!

Stay tuned… I’ll be announcing the winner of the Crayon Wallet giveaway later today!  And we may have news from luvinthemommyhood as well!


  1. lindsey says:

    again, Thank you so much for posting these!

  2. Amber says:

    Such great info! I enjoyed reading the part about kids coming home and being able to express themselves because they truly trust us… unconditional love.

  3. Great recommendations! This is a timely post for me as I had quite a crazy day with my little ones! All is well that ends well as they say, so we are baking cupcakes to end the day!

    Thanks for the information, I needed to read this post today.

  4. DiSailsToo says:

    I just sent you an e-mail, but want to follow-up here, too! Thanks so much! It’s always such a shock to see your name on a blog! I am SO happy to have won the crayon wallet – and perfect timing for my grandson’s birthday!!!

    Thank you again for a wonderful giveaway!

    Diane B
    DiSailsToo (at) comcast (dot) net

  5. I’ve heard that babies also tend to have fits more around their mothers {or primary caretaker} since they trust them the most…I suppose it takes a while to grow out of that!

  6. I’ve heard that babies also tend to have fits more around their mothers {or primary caretaker} since they trust them the most…I suppose it takes a while to grow out of that!

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