Being a parent can sometimes feel like being a Hollywood director managing a cast of highly dramatic actors. But for the most part, all that moodiness from toddlers to teens is normal, say the experts.
Mood swings are as natural as the tides. There is a need for children to learn to regulate their emotions to be functional members of society. Suppressing emotions can lead to becoming deadened, depressed or anxious.
Finding a balance
As caregivers, parents have to learn to help kids balance between controlling and honoring their impulses, which often requires us to look at our own state of mind.
Adults need to learn to be compassionately present to children’s emotions, and help them learn how to care for themselves.
Parents should be paying attention to the sensory personality of each child and taking preemptive steps to avoid emotional overloads.
Some kids are over-responders who get triggered easily by things like sounds, while some are under-responders who are easily lethargic if they spend too much time on the computer. Often, offering a good “sensory diet” that includes time in nature, music and movement can help children regulate their mood swings.
But even the best-laid plans can sometimes fail to prevent an earth-shattering explosion of bad temper.
Talk about the outburst, and give kids the vocabulary to express how they feel during or after.
Often, kids will respond angrily or shut down when they aren’t given choices. Building independence and self-confidence, starting with something as simple as allowing toddlers to be able to hang their own jackets, can go a long way toward helping kids regulate their moods. If children feel they can control the environment, they don’t have to control people.