"My daughter Sophie's disposition changes so quickly we call her Sybil," jokes Vicky Schwartz, of Miami Beach. "One second she's playing sweetly and then, if her baby sister even taps her, she starts screaming. Don't get me started on what happens if we put the meat too close to the potatoes."
Why so much drama over a little gravy? There are few things that are certain in life, but one thing you can always count on is that toddlers are moody. Sometimes your 2-year-old is brimming with smiley revelations -- where did he learn the word "unicorn," anyway? -- a mere minute later, the sky is falling, and fast.
The majority of these ups and downs are, to put it simply, a very normal part of growing up, and it's important not to mistake them for misbehavior, says Paula Levine, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of the Miami Counseling and Resource Center. To you, however, many of your child's perfectly normal mood swings are frustrating, not to mention noisy. Your mood could easily sour if you've driven all the way across town to your toddler's favorite ice cream shop, only to have him change his mind and dump his cone, rainbow sprinkles and all, in the parking lot.
Understanding why he's so mercurial and learning the best ways to adapt to his constantly shifting moods can help lower your stress levels and help him learn to tame his emotions.