I have a soon-to-be 3-yr-old daughter who has been really difficult to manage recently. I understand she might be going through the terrible twos phase and there will be tantrums and crying. However, she seems to be crying every morning when she wakes up.
What should I do?
Often, when a child is going through the terrible twos phase, she may have an increasingly challenging behaviour, insisting on what she wants, and having meltdowns when such demands are not met. However, the terrible twos phase alone may not be the cause of such behaviour.
Since she cries when she wakes up, key factors to consider include her sleeping routine and whether she has sufficient sleep. Having a sound sleeping routine is essential for regulating the child’s behaviour and insufficient sleep will likely cause her to be cranky or upset.
In this case, ensuring the child gets sufficient sleep, either by adjusting her sleeping hours or having a nap during the day might help. Another point to consider will be if major changes or stress factors have been unknowingly added to the child’s routine or environment. These may affect her sleep and self-regulation. Don’t rule out medical issues as well, for example, crying due to pain.
If the crying is due to a genuine issue, be present with the child to provide assurance and comfort. Once you’ve helped her to calm down, give her some time to regulate her behaviour on her own, and then move on to the next activity for the day. Along the way, continue to let her know that you will be around if she needs help.
Having a fun and structured morning routine may prove to be helpful too. For instance, start the day with a fun task, like colouring a book. As she adds colours to the pages, this can motivate her to move on from the initial stage where she gets upset. If the crying persists, a parent discussion with an Occupational Therapist can be arranged to rule out other factors.
Answered by MindChamps Allied Care Occupational Therapist
This question was first answered and published at Serious About PreSchool.