"Mommy," she said, "I'm frustrated that Zoodle is playing with the books!"
I was thrilled to hear that sentence come out of her mouth! Over a year ago, I didn't know how to handle some aggression in Chickie--in particular, she was hitting other kids. An experienced mama advised me, "When she's upset, say, 'That must really be frustrating for you.' Eventually, you'll hear her tell you she's frustrated."
The idea is to help Chickie learn to use words to deal with negative emotions, instead of turning to aggression or tantrums. And whaddya know--I guess it's working! Now, I'm not totally naive--we'll probably deal with a lot more tantrums (likely at least one tomorrow!)
But hopefully I'll hear "I'm frustrated" more and more often as she grows, and hear whining tantrums less and less often. Not only is it more productive, but "I'm frustrated" sounds really cute in her high-pitched, three-year-old voice.
(By the way, the mom who gave me this advice recommended a great book, where she'd learned this principle: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.)