It could be said that many of us are emotional roller coasters at the moment but this means it is even more true for our toddlers who are only beginning to understand and regulate their emotions. Here is a great piece from The Growing Child newsletter distributed by Lifestart
Emotional Roller Coasters
Around three years of age, toddlers generally experience great fluctuations in their self-esteem and self-confidence. At times they act as though they could conquer the world. At other times, they appear to want to creep back into the safe and protective environment of babyhood.
These fluctuations are a normal part of growing up. For example, as you watch your three-year-old venture into a world of new social experiences—whether in childcare, nursery school or with other playmates at home—it is sometimes difficult to let go of her. She is determined to demonstrate to the world that she can do things on her own. She wants her parents and caregivers to “Let me do this by myself.”
Within minutes, however, she may panic if she thinks she has been left alone. She comes running to your side for the comfort, reassurance, or encouragement that she needs.
These emotional ups and downs—emotional roller coasters—may test a parent’s patience to the limit. As adults, we prefer emotional stability in our interactions with others. Toddler, on the other hand is more accustomed to emotional ups and downs as she learns to deal with her feelings.
Coping with a toddler’s emotional swings demands great patience and self-control on the part of parents. If they feel that their patience has reached its limit, it is well, if possible, to withdraw from the situation, even for a few moments. Parents occasionally need a “two-minute time out” to gather their composure. When they return, they can generally deal more effectively with a troublesome situation.
It is often reassuring for parents simply to be aware that their child’s emotional roller coasters are a normal part of growing up. It is also reassuring to know that all parents, at one time or another,have difficulty in dealing with these situations. A warm, dependable relationship is the best stabilizer a child can have at times of emotional turbulence.