Toddler Crying

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Learn why toddlers cry and find tips for dealing with toddler crying.

Why Do Toddlers Cry?

Toddlers cry for many reasons:

  • Hunger
  • Pain
  • Frustration
  • Tiredness
  • Surprise
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Disappointment
  • Communication
  • Self Expression

And the list could probably go on and on!

What Are The Best Ways to Handle Toddler Crying?

  • Respond calmly and with patience: Whether your toddler is crying from fear, being overly tired, or another reason, responding calmly will begin the process of helping your child calm down. Yelling and screaming or demanding that the crying stop will only increase the tension and feed negative emotions into an already unpleasant situation.
  • Give the right amount of attention: Toddler crying is communication, and needs a proper response from mom or dad! Completely ignoring it can make your child even more overwhelmed, but giving too much attention doesn’t help either! If a toddler is overwhelmed, giving some hugs and cuddles can often eliminate the problem. If a child is in full toddler tantrum mode, sometimes it’s best to give your toddler a moment to calm down.
  • Give attention when toddler is not crying too: Toddlers can get in the habit of crying to get attention. The best way to break this habit is by showing your toddler you pay attention to more than just sadness and crying! Show your toddler you pay attention when s/he speaks, laughs, plays, and more! Make sure to take time throughout your day to spend one on one time with your little one too!
  • Watch and see: Have you ever noticed your toddler sometimes cries more when he/she thinks you expect him/her to cry? For example, have you ever rushed over to your child after a fall, only to realize that your toddler only started crying after you came to see if he/she was okay? Many times toddlers won’t cry over a little stumble or a minor disappointment if mom and dad don’t make a big deal about it. By checking on your child in a less dramatic way you won’t give him/her the cue to cry!
  • Help your toddler use words: Sometimes crying is the only way toddlers knows how to communicate their feelings and frustrations. Toddlers need parents to teach them to use their words! Do this by saying how you think your toddler feels. Ex: “You are sad. You are sad because you want to play with that toy. You want to play with that toy, but it’s not your turn so you are sad. You wish you could play with that toy.” By saying your toddler’s dilemma simply in a repetitive way, your toddler will begin to learn how to express those feeling verbally. The added bonus to doing this is your toddler will also feel more understood, and an understood toddler is often a happy toddler!
  • Keep your child’s physical needs met: When your toddler is hungry and tired, s/he’s just more likely to have a meltdown. By making sure your toddler gets meals and snacks at the right intervals and sticking to a nap schedule, you’ll help avoid unnecessary toddler crying!
  • Redirect behavior: Help your toddler find a fun activity to do when s/he is crying. Maybe pull out the blocks, read some books together, play a game of catch, sing a fun toddler song, etc.
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