Infants have a very limited range of emotions. 2 year-olds get upset because they experience several new emotions for the first time, and they don’t know how to deal with them.
According to Dr. Maureen O’Brien, author of Watch Me Grow I’m Two, “the central dilemma for both child and parent in the third year springs largely from the normal unevenness of the two-year-old’s mental, physical, and emotional development . . . many of the difficulties . . . even tantrums on the child’s part – are a result of this mismatch between a parent’s or child’s expectations of the child’s abilities.” In other words, he just can’t do what you want him to do (or even what he wants to do.)
He is becoming aware of other people’s viewpoints, yet still has a short attention span, a limited ability to control impulses, and very little practice at controlling emotions. He is still learning how to control everything about his body, from the use of his fingers to the release of hormones. You need to be patient with him, as he will grow out of it, but you also need to help him become patient with himself by modeling proper behavior.
All children have three emotional needs: Your attention, your affection, and your acknowledgment. Keep this in mind during the wild outbursts that are sure to come. This is also a critical age for developing self-worth, and therefore self-confidence, so be aware of the messages you are sending.
He will take his emotional cues from you: Whenever he encounters something new, he will look to you for the proper reaction. If you freak out, you will teach him to do the same. If you are calm and collected, he will try to be like you. However, certain fears and anxieties will appear on their own as the result of her developing imagination: Monsters in the closet or under the bed. Don’t try to combat these fears with logic (a mental solution for an emotional problem.) Instead, listen to understand the source of fear, and then address that.
For more insights into how your child’s mind works, click here to see your options.