When children are toddlers (say 2-3), they are often friendly and happy, but severe occurrences of moodiness are often common. This can make it hard for many preschoolers to integrate with their peers, and can lead to further problems later in life. However, it is possible to understand and deal with this moodiness early.
Emotional Control Issues Are Often The Culprit
Moody preschoolers are often those who have trouble controlling the range of their emotions or communicating them in effective ways. Though your preschooler will undoubtedly have communication skills, emotions are complex and difficult to process. As a result, small things might trigger a small change in mood that they can't express.
Instead of expressing that mood, they simply let it simmer and it burns over into what appears to be moodiness. They might snap at you or their classmates in preschool with little or no provocation. This impacts their interaction with their peers, making it more difficult.
Frustration Is Often The Result
Communication problems not only lead to moodiness, but a sense of frustration. Frustration often spills out of preschoolers in the form of angry words directed at inanimate objects ("I hate the toilet!"), activities ("painting is stupid!"), or people ("I hate you!").
The problem is that your child lacks the impulse control and emotional maturity to calm their frustration or discuss it in a reasonable way. Lashing out like this can make a child seem emotionally unstable and make them seem more difficult to manage.
Why Communication Is Crucial
Talking to your child regularly and during their moody episodes is so important to working them through these difficult emotions and ensuring that it remains a phase, rather than a personality trait. Try to keep tabs on your child throughout the day and pay attention to moments when they get moody or when they lash out. Identify what made them upset and find ways to address it.
For example, let's say your child is trying to draw a picture of the family dog, but the dog keeps moving or they lack the skills to render it properly. They get frustrated, throw their crayons at the dog, and say that drawing is "stupid." Instead of immediately scolding them, wait for their anger to settle down before approaching them.
Now, ask them what caused the outburst and listen to what they have to say carefully. Remember, preschoolers are still mastering communication, so they might use repetitive phrases or body language to communicate.
Praise your child instead of scolding them and tell that you like their picture. Better yet, let them draw you and stay perfectly still. Praise the picture and put it on the fridge to make them feel good about it. Also make sure to enforce that they should "think it out" before acting out and talk to an adult before getting upset.
Helping a moody preschooler is all about understanding the source of their moodiness and finding a solution for it. Working with them in this way can also help teach them coping mechanisms for future emotional problems.
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