By Jana Angeles
They call it terrible two’s for a reason, however you’ll start to see signs of your moody child as early as 18mths. You’ve probably noticed that your child is no longer the sweet angel you once saw them as. They’ve started talking back, pulling random tantrums and even throwing in a nasty bite on your leg somehow. Let’s face it – little ones can get out of control with their mood swings and we can only hope these things get better with time.
Unfortunately, not many parents are as lucky to have obedient children and sometimes, we just have to wait it out when our child becomes moody for no apparent reason. There comes a point where we have to be accepting of their unpredictable habits while doing our best to encourage our children to respect us before things get out of hand. So why do our little ones share the same mood swings as our teenagers?
You Don’t Understand Their Wants And Needs
Between the ages of 1 and 3, it becomes difficult to understand what your child wants or needs from us. Because of their limited vocabulary, you may not completely interpret their babble correctly, resulting in a very frustrated baby. Always remember to remain calm and patient when it comes to the needs and wants of your child.
Even if it takes forever to get things right with them or getting the right item they want to play with, know that you have the power to guide them through their wants and needs. For example, if your child wants a specific item but you’re not too sure what it is, you can name each possible choice and point them out as soon as you say them. From there, they can visually see what items are available and they can point to what they want.
They Struggle With Moving On To A Different Task
Transitions for your little one is a struggle for them especially if they have to move on to a different task after the completion of one activity. Living in an adult world, we’re expected to physically and mentally adapt to the changes that happen around us but even for us, that can be too demanding. The demand for a child is much higher and if they don’t feel control over these transitions, it’s no surprise that some can react very negatively to a certain task.
When it comes to teaching your child transitions, make sure you go at their pace and lay them out in order. Little ones are able to understand things sequentially so starting off a bath routine can help them learn the steps it takes to accomplish bath time.
They Become Tired and Hungry Quickly
For a very tiny human, you’re most likely dealing with an energiser bunny when it comes to playtime. It’s important to treasure the moments where your little one is able to nap for a couple of hours. During those golden hours, you should try and make the effort of doing something productive (ie. work that never get’s done when your little one is awake).
You’ll notice if your child plays around too much and has missed their nap time, the tantrums become more frequent. Furthermore, feeding your child healthy snacks will fuel them for longer. Avoid junk food or foods high in sugar as these will only make them hyperactive and they’ll crash and burn quicker if they consume them regularly; only keep them as treats.
They Have No Control Over Their Emotions
Little ones have no sense of logic and reasoning behind their strong emotions. When they are upset, they will continue to be and you just have to let them feel that way for that period of time. Like with all moods, they experience emotions on a different level and may feel an amplified version when they’re happy or upset. As they grow older, it’ll become easier for them to manage and control their emotions but for now, you just have to let them feel how they feel.
As a parent, try to connect how they feel with words they could use so they can attempt to connect the dots. Offer up alternatives if they become engaged with a particular activity. Although some of the choices you make for them will make them mad, explain why you are stopping a particular action. For example, they want to stay in the bath for a long time. Let them know this isn’t allowed and offer their favourite toy to play with instead. Use terms like, “I understand” or “you must feel” so in that way, you can let them know that you understand their emotions.
How Can I Deal With Their Tantrums?
- Don’t bother arguing with your child. Arguing with your little one is not going to do you any favours so try and avoid it if you can. Take control of the situation and fix it.
- Put them in a safe place – like a cot or playpen. Let them cry for a minute or two in the safe place and walk away. This will give them the opportunity to calm down and soothe themselves. It will also avoid the temptation of a tantrum too because they’re in a smaller space.
- Pick them up when things get calmer. Carry your little one and get on with your day. There’s no point dwelling on what has happened. They will eventually realise that tantrums will never get them what they want.
Your little one and their mood swings are just part of the deal at this stage but what you can do is to encourage your child to listen and respect you. It will take a lot of time and patience but this “moody” stage will pass you by eventually. There are more learning curves ahead of you, the journey has only just begun!