Moodiness in Young Children: Why It Happens and What to Do About It

The sooner we teach our children to manage bad moods, the better the results will be. Patience is key when it comes to moodiness in children.
Moodiness in Young Children: Why It Happens and What to Do About It
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 25 April, 2023

Moodiness in children doesn’t have to be bad if we teach our children how to handle it. There are children with strong characters who have a tendency to get angry easily. In this article, we’ll tell you why it happens and what to do about it.

It’s essential that we teach children to control their temper from an early age. If a child is in a bad mood, this is a means of communicating something that’s happening to them. For example, a problem at school, something that’s worrying them, that they’re is jealous of their brother, or that they’re like that because they want to get something immediately. This attitude must be controlled because if we allow it to pass, later, they can soon become moody adolescents.

Why moodiness in young children occurs

The bad moods of children have their origin in the environment in which they live and grow up. This is what begins to shape their character. The environment surrounding a moody toddler is often determined by the way their parents bring them up. Regarding this, we can distinguish the following:

  • Very authoritarian or serious parents. Children imitate this behavior and attitude that they see all the time around them. As a result, they’re often in a bad mood.
  • Parents who are too permissive. They give their children everything they want, even before they ask for it. In this case, children get angry if their wishes aren’t fulfilled immediately or simply to get their attention.
  • External aspects, such as school. A child’s bad temper or bad mood may be the result of a bad relationship with some of their classmates or because they have a teacher who’s very demanding or has a bad temper.
  • The time we spend with our children. If children don’t often have the presence of their parents to spend time with them, they’ll often find themselves in a bad mood. A child who has the company of their parents every day is calmer and communicates what worries them because they know that their parents are there to listen to them.
A small boy who's in a mad mood.
If we show children, from an early age, how they can manage and control a bad mood, we can keep it from being a problem in the future.

What to do when faced with moodiness in young children

When parents find their child in a bad mood, the first thing to do is to reflect to find out what the cause is. This will help us a lot when looking for solutions and taking action. Also, it’s good that we counteract the situation with jokes and good humor. A smile is incompatible with anger. We can help our children in the following way:

  • Educate them with a positive mood.
  • When they show an appropriate behavior, always praise them so that they realize that a good atmosphere is produced when we’re in a good mood.
  • Teach them to ask for forgiveness. It’s important that they learn to put themselves in the place of others, and, if they’ve done something wrong or hurt someone, they should ask for forgiveness.
  • Being silly can make their bad mood disappear. This way, they’ll end up smiling and will be able to get over their anger more quickly. What’s more, when they’re older, they’ll use their sense of humor to improve difficult situations.
  • Teach them to be strong-willed. For example, to be able to do their homework when it’s time, wait when they have to, or eat without complaining.
  • Don’t get more angry than they do when they’re in a bad mood: This is counterproductive because they’ll see anger as a way to solve conflicts and that isn’t what we want our children to think.
  • Don’t tell them that they’re always in a bad mood. Otherwise, they may feel bad and get sad for being that way.
  • Be patient. We shouldn’t yell at them or lose our temper. It’s key that we talk to them slowly, firmly, and calmly.
  • Help them and find out what’s wrong: It’s important that we know why they’re in such a bad mood.
  • Show our love more than ever. Giving them affection and love will be the best antidote for their bad temper.
An angry child lying on the floor, looking at a tablet.
A bad temper that we’ve been able to manage since childhood can lead to an adult who’s incapable of establishing personal relationships because their bad temper ends up destroying them.

Put on your best face when it comes to moodiness in children!

We must be clear that moodiness in young children will pass. For this reason, the sooner we teach our children to manage it, the better the results will be. We shouldn’t take their anger as something personal, nor should we take offense and scold them for it. Our support will be the quickest way to restore calm to our little one.

If you think your child is often in a bad mood, find out what’s wrong. And, most importantly, never lose your cool. You can use these tips that we’ve given you in this article to improve those situations and restore their calm.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Shapiro, L. E., & Tiscornia, A. (1997). La inteligencia emocional de los niños. Buenos Aires: Javier Vergara.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.