Toddlers – emotional roller coasters

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.

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        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4 Volume 5 Volume 6

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books ( and also on  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from

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