Being moody is no fun – however being faced with a moody child can be very draining. Sometimes we don’t know where it comes from – one minute everything was fine, then next, that sweet child you were talking to has turned into something – well – less angelic. There are many reasons why children become moody or grumpy and as an adult you know a great strategy is to ignore it or keep calm… however staying calm can be difficult. You’ve been patient enough, but eventually you feel your temper rising. Before you know it, doors are being slammed and voices have risen to the point you think the neighbours might be able to hear.
Tips on how to stay calm:
- Get ahead of your anger / frustration
As you feel yourself start to get angry or frustrated, make a change to where you are or what you are doing. Often leaving the room, or doing a very simple task such as tidying something away that’s out of place, sending a WhatsApp etc, can bring about the momentum we need to calm us down. The more calm you can stay, the calmer they will be too. It’s amazing how quickly a situation can be defused by going under the emotion, rather than matching it or elevating it.
2. What patterns do you see in the moodiness?
When they were a baby, you knew the difference between one cry to another. Now that they are older, what patterns do you notice in the moodiness? Are they moody when they come home from school, or when they are asked to do something or start their homework? Start to look for patterns such as time of day or request, and see what you can learn. In this way, you can prepare ahead of time. Moodiness or grumpiness is slightly easier to handle if you know it’s coming! The action of deliberately looking out for moodiness will also help to keep you calm – you’re now an observer of the situation, rather than a participant.
Yes – really. Smiling is contagious. Even when you feel like you want to do anything but smile – do it anyway. Take a deep breath, look them in the eye and smile. It will make you feel less stressed and anxious and will bring them down too – or possibly make them more approachable afterwards so you can talk about it. Smiling makes you more approachable and seem more trustworthy. Children don’t like to be moody or angry – help calm them and you down by smiling.
4. What’s helped in the past?
Reflect back – what has helped you to keep calm in other situations or with your child in the past that you can draw on now? Did you repeat a slogan, did you have a glass of water, or create movement or space of some kind? Often having a manta that we repeat over and over can be a great way to stop us reaching that tipping point. You will have skills from the past and different areas of your life that you can use to help here. Write them down and then try them out next time – what differences do you see?
5. What’s really going on?
Children are like barometers – they are easily influenced by the smallest change and will react strongly – especially if they feel an injustice has been served e.g. a broken promise. What is it that’s making them moody? Is it just a one off or is there more to it? What changes are going on in their life – in school, home or friendships? What sleep are they getting? Use your logical side, rather than the emotional side – what can you learn by doing that?