Language Skills Linked to Anger Control in Toddlers

Language is a form of expression. We can use it to express our thoughts or how we are feeling. A study conducted in 2012 delved deeper into this concept, studying how expression through language affects toddler behavior. Specifically, researchers at the Pennsylvania State University were interested in whether or not the language skills of a toddler between the ages of 2 and 4 has an affect on how they contain their anger.

Through home visits, researchers conducted several experiments, the premises of which were to put the child to a frustrating task and see how they would handle it. For one activity, the child was given a gift and told not to open it for 8 minutes, until their mother was done with some job (in this case answering questions asked by a researcher). Observations showed that children with lower language skills were more likely to throw tantrums and express anger. Those with higher language skills were able to either distract themselves by telling a story or calmly pass the time through questions about the situation (e.g. “I wonder what it is?”). Overall, a pattern of using words to express the child’s thoughts regarding the situation they were put in emerged throughout the time of the experiments. The researchers concluded that the level of a toddler’s language skills is directly correlated with that toddler’s ability to control anger or frustration.

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