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Toddlers With Language Skills Manage Their Anger Better

Update Date: Dec 20, 2012 03:11 PM EST

A new study suggests that toddlers with better language skills are more capable of managing their anger. According to the research, children who can speak words can manage their frustration better and are less likely to express anger by the time they're in preschool.

The study has been conducted by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and appears in the journal Child Development.

"This is the first longitudinal evidence of early language abilities predicting later aspects of anger regulation," according to Pamela M. Cole, liberal arts research professor of psychology and human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University, who was the principal investigator of the study.

Even though children show temper tantrums, they are expected to have better control over their anger by the time they enter school. For them to have a better self-control, they are taught to use language skills. The researchers through this study wanted to determine if acquiring language skills had anything to do with anger control. They wanted to check if development of language altered anger management in toddlers between ages 2 and 4.

For the study, the researchers looked at 120 children (predominantly white) belonging to families which were above poverty but below middle income from the time they were 18 months to 48 months, Medical Xpress reported.

The researchers they measured the children's language ability and their ability to cope with situations that may elicit frustration. In one of the tasks for the experiment, the researchers asked the children to wait for 8 minutes before they could open a gift while their moms were finishing "work."

During these 8 minutes, the children's patience, behavior, and regulatory strategies were observed by the researchers. It was found that children with language skills were better able to manage their anger seeking their mother's support while they waited. They were asking questions like "Mom, are you done yet?" or "I wonder what it is?" and were able to distract themselves away from the gift by either making up stories or counting out loud. It was found that children with better language skills at age 4 expressed lesser anger than others.

"Better language skills may help children verbalize rather than use emotions to convey needs and use their imaginations to occupy themselves while enduring a frustrating wait," Cole said.

Children whose language developed more quickly also were better able to occupy themselves when they were 4, which in turn helped them tolerate the wait, the report said.

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