I found myself desperately Googling “Why is my toddler so moody?” after a long, hard day of frequent tantrums, clinginess, and unexplainable meltdowns over every.little.thing.
Like the ups and downs of a roller coaster, our day took many unwanted twists and turns. Just when I thought we were going uphill, we would hit the top and come crashing down.
Whenever my son throws a fit, I typically respond with giving him space followed up with a logical conversation. You can probably predict how this goes with a two-year-old. But I’ve learned a few reasons why a toddler is so moody, and this will help me be more successful with my response.
Reasons why toddlers are moody:
1. Toddlers have a lot of wants but don’t know how to express them.
My son has a lot of words, but when my daughter was his age, she didn’t. Every child is different. But think about having all these big feelings and no way to express them appropriately. Few words plus a lack of experience regulating their emotions equals lots of meltdowns!
2. They can’t control their emotions.
Just like toddlers can’t express their emotions very well, they also can’t control them! When we as adults have big feelings, we often know how to talk ourselves out of reacting or cope in healthy ways. But as soon as a toddler feels a negative emotion, he/she lets the whole world know!
3. They struggle through transitions.
There are reasons we are told that keeping routines with young kids is important. One of the reasons is that children struggle through transitions. They like to anticipate what’s going to come next so they can feel better prepared. Childmind.org explains why children struggle with transitions and how we can help them to embrace change instead of avoiding it.
Tips for how to respond:
1. Don’t let your toddler’s emotions be contagious.
This is something I really struggle with! If my child is melting down, I find myself doing the same thing right along with him. But this is the opposite of what I should be doing! His emotions should not be contagious. He needs some stability and a good example to follow!
2. Don’t reward the moody behavior.
There is a difference between bribery and reward! Kids are smart, so if you offer bribes every time they show a negative behavior, you will find that it encourages the meltdowns instead of prevents them!
3. Slow down.
Sometimes a toddler’s moody behavior is a result of moving too fast. He’s asking you to slow down in the only way he knows how! My daughter is actually the one who reminds me to slow down the most. She enjoys an easy-going, unhurried day. And if we are bouncing around from one thing to the next, you can guarantee she will express her discomfort in the form of a mood shift or tantrum.
As a mama, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of meltdowns and moodiness. Tell us in the comments how YOU respond?