Did you ever have something really good happen that you had mixed emotions about? Ever dip into a panic right before you got married or had a baby?
Have you ever been offered a job you sought only to wish you hadn’t gotten it?
Have you ever had times when you are very emotional but couldn’t describe what you were feeling or why?
Did you ever think you were just plain crazy?
Of course you did.
Now imagine being two. Or four, or six, or twelve. In an immature stage of development, confused, overwhelming emotions spin around inside a child’s head like a tornado, the child doesn’t know what is happening, and the result is unwanted, inappropriate, out-of-control behavior.
If you were not experienced enough to know that this is only temporary, you’d probably think, “Is this how I’m going to feel forever?” Face it. At age forty or fifty you think that.
So when a young child is up and down emotionally, he understands his feelings a lot less than you do and has no way of explaining himself. So, “What’s wrong? How do you feel about that? Why are you so upset/angry/sad?” are the worst possible things you can say to an upset child.