A surprising new study has shown there is a link between language and the ability to manage anger in toddlers. Any parent knows what a toddler temper tantrum can look like – but this study indicates the likelihood and severity of tantrums decreases when toddlers have the language skills to express themselves verbally. And it’s not only during the toddler phase that the effects are seen – it appears that toddlers who pick up language skills earlier are less prone to anger issues even as they get older. The researchers believed that the ability to verbalize thoughts helped to ease frustrating situations. It allows children to ask questions or think out loud, whereas children who can’t express themselves become frustrated much more quickly, not only due to circumstances themselves but due to their lack of articulation. The link between language and the ability to deal with frustration and anger has long been theorized, but this study offers some conclusive evidence in favor of the theory.
Language skills also appeared to correlate to children’s ability to keep themselves entertained or distracted – in other words, kids with better language skills tend to require less constant attention from external sources in order to avoid becoming bored and frustrated.
However, some psychologists question the cause and effect in this scenario. It may be that better verbal skills give toddlers an opportunity to vent frustration that may otherwise be pent up and result in a tantrum – at the same time, however, it may be that children growing up in households where language skills are emphasized from an early age are also more likely to pick up reasoning and anger management skills directly from the behavior of their parents. At this stage, it remains difficult to judge based on the data of the study whether language skills are the direct cause of better anger management, or if good language skills and better anger management happen to be cultivated in similar household environments. Either way, though, the conclusion that language and anger management are linked is clear.