In order to reduce moaning and overreacting behaviour it is important to try and establish why your child is doing this.
Is your child trying to communicate how they feel and think about the current context?
Are they using moaning and overreacting as a strategy to get attention from you?
Are they struggling with emotional regulation?
Do they have some sensory hypersensitivity which means that some experiences are felt more intensely than for the average person?
Has moaning and over reacting become their default way of dealing with these situations? Do they know the appropriate way to behave in the context?
Reducing your child's moans will therefore depend on the reasons for them. This may be different for each context.
Listen briefly to moans, acknowledge them and then give a balancing positive statement. For example:
'Falling over must of hurt but you are playing a really good game of football.'
Stay calm and carry on
Remain calm and in control as this helps the child regulate their emotions. Model the behaviour you want your child to have. Avoid becoming flustered and overreacting when things go wrong for yourself. By remain calm you are conveying the messages 'Everything is OK' and 'Nothing to worry about here!' to your child.
When something goes wrong your child may need reassurance from you. This is a good excuse for a quick cuddle or to put your hand on their arm or shoulder and reaffirm the family bond. This gives the message 'I am here and you will be OK' to your child. Try to keep your interaction brief so that you are not giving your child too much attention.
Reassure then Distract
After you reassure your child that they are OK change the subject. Suggest a new activity for your child to do. For example:
'Come here and give me a cuddle. - Now, why don't you go and play a quiet game.'
Try to notice and praise your child everytime they deal with a situation without overreacting. Even when they are a little upset you can focus on the positives. For example:
'Well done, you handled that well.'
'I'm really proud of you, you didn't make a fuss.'
It is important to respond immediately to very young children whenever they are upset. At this age they need the security of knowing a parent (or other adult) is always there to keep them safe and secure. Responding quickly every single time will make the child more secure and less likely to overreact to situations.
Controlled crying is a technique advocated by some for getting babies and toddlers to sleep without continued parental presence. This approach can lead to serious long term mental health issues for some children if they feel abandoned by their parents. Unfortunately, controlled crying can give the message:
'When I need help no one comes!'
It is always better to return to your child and gradually extend the time the child is expected to 'self-soothe' before each return. Building up from a few seconds to a few minutes over a period of weeks is necessary to avoid potential harm. This then gives the message:
'When I need help, I might need to wait a bit but someone will always come.'