Ever wondered how a child can go from being a charming little angel to someone who just bursts out bawling and throwing a tantrum for no apparent reason? Cranky kids can be quite difficult to manage. They can easily stress out parents, teachers and their friends as well. Children get cranky for many reasons. Let’s find out why.
Lack of sleep: Is your child getting enough sleep? Or did their sleep pattern break for some reason? Usually parents set a sleep routine for their kids for school days. But they may break this routine during weekends or while on vacation. This can disrupt the kid’s routine, thereby depriving them of enough sleep.
What should you do? Just like adults, kids also require some sort of schedule and predictability in a day. So set a routine for your child and stick to the schedule. This way the child does not feel out of the loop and their body clock is in tune with the schedule.
Hunger: Some kids tend to get cranky when they are hungry. When kids refuse to eat or eat very little, their blood sugar levels drop. This, in turn, decreases their energy levels. In fact, eating too much sugar at a time can also cause low blood sugar. This is because the too much intake of sugar confuses the pancreas causing it to release incorrect doses of insulin.
What should you do? Each child will react differently to low blood sugar levels. Therefore, as parents, try to recognize when your child gets low on energy. Make sure that your child eats regular meals, especially meals with protein, whole grains and lots of fresh vegetables. Use fresh fruits in moderation as snacks. Avoid products with too much sugar. Instead, give them milk or diluted sweetened juices. Sweets or concentrated drinks should be given in moderation.
Tiredness: Kids cannot recognize tiredness very well. Most kids will love to just stay awake all the time, even when their body is telling them to rest or sleep. They just want to have fun. The human brain needs sleep to work but children don’t know that.
What should you do? When your kids get cranky, all you can do is to explain to them that they are tired. Try making them go to bed early and get them to take some rest. Look for times when they get cranky or tired and plan accordingly.
They are not able to tell you what they want: Small children cannot communicate as well as adults do. Children between ages one 1 to 3 find the world fascinating, large and forever changing. However, for all that they see and experience, they only have about 20 words in their vocabulary. From your standpoint as a parent, can you see how frustrating that is? For instance, your child may not be able to tell you that he or she but will scream and shout for it till you give it to him.
What should you do? Don’t let your child’s unpredictable behaviour bother you. Be calm and patient. When you give them the object they are screaming for, give it a name so that they can associate the two and ask for it by name.
They want to assert themselves: Children start becoming independent by the time they turn 3 or 4. They want to do things on their own and to have their way. So when parents refuse to give in, they shout, scream and kick up a storm. They do this only to get what they want.
What should you do? There are many ways to handle their temper tantrums. Set aside some “me” time with your child. Play with them, engage them in something positive. Let them decide on any activity and you participate in them wholeheartedly. Look for opportunities to appreciate good behaviour. The more you do this, the more the child will understand the benefits of good behaviour.
However, if your child does yell and scream, ignore them unless they are in any kind of physical danger. By not paying attention, you are not reinforcing their bad behaviour. Yet another thing to do is to talk softly. The more they scream, the softer you talk. The child will bring his or her volume down because eventually, they do want to engage with you. Last but not the least, try to understand the reason for this behaviour and act accordingly.
They want your attention: Yelling and shouting can be their way of trying to get your attention. This can be especially true when there are siblings around. Children also tend to use tantrums as a means of control.
What should you do? Children look for their parent’s approval and attention. Spend at least 20 minutes of quality time with your kids every day. Also, look for good behaviour and reward it with a hug, a kiss or a few good words. Do not approve negative behaviour, this will only make them more manipulative.
Even the most happiest and adorable of kids can get cranky once a while. It’s only natural. As parents, try not to get overwhelmed and feel out of control. Use the ideas we have suggested. It may feel like you have to do a lot but it is certainly worth your time and patience. Remember, do not ignore good behaviour. Reward it by your approval and attention. Succumbing to negative attention is a big no. Stay in control, do not lose your cool and stay focussed. Good luck and happy parenting!