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  • Sobrang Moody? How to Deal With Your Two-Year Old's Temper

    The terrific twos (and threes) can be a frustrating time for your little one.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison . Published Sep 11, 2019
Sobrang Moody? How to Deal With Your Two-Year Old's Temper
PHOTO BY @M-image/iStock
  • Life with a child is never predictable. For every plan you make, something happens that completely cancels it out. And when your child reaches the terrific twos and threes stage, expect life to become even more interesting.

    Anybody who’s lived with a toddler knows that when someone refers to parenthood as a roller-coaster journey, that person is probably referring to the little one’s mood changes (aka, tantrums). One moment he can be all giggly and playful, then turn into a screaming, disruptive toddler the next. This frequent mood shift is enough to send any parent at wit’s end trying to figure out the answer to the big why: Why is my toddler so moody?

    The answer: Because he’s a toddler.

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    Toddlers have limited vocabularies.

    Tell me what’s more frustrating than having lots of emotions deep inside you and not having the tools — words — to express them. And if he can’t verbalize all the amazing things he is able to observe, guess what happens? 

    Help your toddler: Equip him with the right words by labeling feelings and actions (“You’re frustrated that you can’t reach your toy that’s why you’re crying.”) as you talk to him. Say out loud the name of each item as you point to it. This gives you a clearer understanding of his thoughts, while also helping develop his vocabulary. By repetition, he will learn how to communicate with you better.

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    Toddlers can’t get a hold of their emotions yet.

    While adults are often told to practice “mind over heart” to imply letting logic win over emotions, 2- and 3-year-olds have yet to develop the mental facility to do the same. Strong emotions are all they have. 

    Help your toddler: Be calm. There’s no way you can win over a screaming toddler if you fight fire with fire. Try other tactics: distraction might work, or, just sit still and look comfortable. When he begins to tire out, calmly invite him to join you in a fun activity (don’t dwell on the subject that got him frustrated in the first place, or you’ll be back to square one).


    Toddlers have no understanding of the concept of time.

    Telling a toddler to wait is pointless, because they do not know the concept of time. All they know in their young minds is the “here” and “now”. So if they cannot get what they want right this minute, don’t be surprised if his mood changes.

    Help your toddler: Again, if things go awry, distraction is a mom’s best friend. Entice him with a book, sing an action song out loud (and do the gestures on him), take him outside for a change of scenery. He’ll forget what he was upset about soon enough. 

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    Toddlers can only do one task at a time.

    Overwhelming a little child with too many stimuli, or asking him to hurry up an activity might not be a good idea. Author Claire Lerner of Bringing Up Baby told Parents, “It takes a lot of physical and mental energy to adapt to the ever-changing world.”

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    Kids can only focus on one thing at a time, so transitions trigger a change in their mood. “Kids get very focused on one activity and then we expect them to change gears instantly. This sort of transition takes a toll on even an adult mind, so those expectations are way too high for children,” Lerner adds.

    Help your toddler: Introduce activities that suit your toddler’s abilities. Give ample warnings ahead of time to let him know a change in action will soon happen. Gradually ease him into the next activity by explaining the sequence, so that by doing so he knows what to expect.

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