When they are very young, children have yet to learn how to vocalize their frustrations, and often resort to tantrums and fits. Every emotion from mere frustration, to sadness, to absolute fury can result in an all-out, balled-fists and purple-faced screaming session. Typically around the age of two, parents will notice a dramatic increase in mood swings and temper tantrums.
These “terrible twos” are the result of your child’s growing awareness of the world around him, and the cognitive ability to have an opinion about what is going on. Add to that an extremely short attention span, and you have a recipe for exhaustion. It can be hard to deal with these tough moments. After a while, it’s honestly hard not to succumb to a temper tantrum of your own and throw yourself down on the floor alongside your child.
This too shall pass. Although being a parent through these tough phases can be scream inducing, time will pass and things will get better. In the meantime, do your best to be patient with your child. She is learning so much at once; it’s no wonder she is confused and frustrated. Try putting yourself in her shoes and try to imagine what could be making her so upset.
Take a deep breath and take it one step at a time.
Talk It Out
When children are at their moodiest and throwing tantrums, it is often because they don’t know how to vocalize their emotions. You can help your child learn to put words to these feelings by talking it out with them. Say things like “Yes, you are frustrated because we can’t go to the park. But it is raining, so we will have to try to again tomorrow.” Or “I understand that you are angry that Mommy won’t let you eat the crayons, but they will hurt your tummy if you eat them.”
Sooner or later, your child’s brain will start connecting the dots and making the connections to these words that symbolize their feelings. Eventually, they will be able to tell you how they are feeling rather than just having a fit. Another benefit of talking about feelings is that when you are feeling a certain way, your child will be better able to understand how their actions make you feel. For example, if your child has misbehaved you can say “This makes me feel angry,” and your child will be able to associate that statement with a time when they felt angry.
Luckily, at this age, your child has a very short attention span. It is likely that you will be able to redirect his or her attention to another activity or distraction and they will forget all about whatever it was that had upset them at the time. Diversion won’t work every time, but for the most part it’s a pretty useful trick to be used in a pinch. Try not to rely on diversion all of the time, though. It is important that you pay attention to and talk about your child’s feelings. It will help them develop healthier means of expression.
No one knows your child better than you, but sometimes even a parent can have trouble understanding their child’s temperaments. Especially during those tough “growing pains” moments it can be frustrating trying to piece together and understand your child’s mood swings.
With some patience, however, you and your child can move past this difficult time.
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