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He's Not Misbehaving: 5 Things to Do With a Grouchy Toddler
  • Everybody has bad days including small kids. One moment they are a ball of sunshine and sweetness and next thing you know he has this sumpong that can last the whole day.

    “The majority of these ups and downs are, to put it simply, a very normal part of growing up, and it's important not to mistake them for misbehavior,” psychiatrist Dr. Paula Levine, told Parents. At 2 years old, a child is now capable of experiencing a full range of emotions, added Robert Marvin, Ph.D., a professor of child psychiatry at the University of Virginia, and your little one can’t quite get handle on these feelings. That's when mom and dad come into the picture.

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    Here’s what you can do when your little one is grumpy:  

    1. Don't become grumpy yourself. 
    Remember, at toddler and preschool ages, your child’s world still revolves around himself. “Regulate your own emotions so you can stay calm and compassionate with your child,” said psychologist Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. This way, you can better focus on tactics to lift his mood!  

    As the saying goes, you can’t fight fire with fire. Children are big copiers—they learn from how you behave and act. So, when you have difficulty managing your own emotions and get angry easily, they will model their behavior after you.  

    2. Find out the source of grumpy behavior
    Sometimes, your child simply doesn’t know the words to express what he wants. Your tot can be grumpy because he doesn’t like the shoes he’s wearing or he can’t find the red crayon. They are concerns that don't sound much, but for a child, it is major problem. 

    When you can’t figure out what your child wants right away, Dr. Levine advises, “Try to help him by picking up items he might possibly want and labeling them.” Say the name of what you’re holding or pointing to out loud so your child will know what to say the next time around. 

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    3. Take advantage of your tot’s short attention span
    It’s no secret toddlers are easily distracted so use it to your advantage. “Kids this age are curious about so many things that they're often going in several directions at once,” said James Windell, author of Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes, in a separate article for Parents

    Pretend to be fascinated with the bubbles in the sink when you’re washing the dishes, for example. She’ll want to join in on the fun! A change of scenery is a good distraction as well. Take a quick walk outside to look at the sky or pop down to the nearest sari-sari store to see if there’s anything good for merienda. 

    4. Give her a task
    By 18 months to 3 years old, a parent starts to notice a child's growing independent spirit, said parent educator, author and coach, Vicki Hoefle, in an article for PBS.org. Toddlers like feeling “grown up,” trying out new things and mastering skills. It’s why your little one insists on pouring her own glass of juice.  

    When your child is grumpy, try giving her small tasks or chores to do, said Heidi Murkoff, the author of the What to Expect When You're Expecting series. Let her “help” you sort through the laundry. You can also give her the water bottle sprayer and a rag so she can “clean” surfaces. You might have to redo some of her handiwork (like wipe the juice that spilled on the floor), but she’ll enjoy the responsibility and accomplished some parent-child bonding time.  

    5. She may be sleepy or hungry 
    Don’t underestimate the power of a nap. Children can turn into little monsters when they’re tired, sleepy, or hungry. Before a tantrum sets in, quickly recall the last time she ate or napped. It may be time to rest.

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