As parents, there is nothing more concerning than when your child cries, especially when they are crying often and over very small things. This phenomenon can make even the best of parents doubt their parenting style.
It’s necessary to understand that when children are small, especially in the toddler age, it’s pretty normal for small things to seem like major things to them. Remember, they are still emotionally developing, so they haven’t learned yet how to handle their emotions. Dismissing their emotions, reprimanding them for them, or giving in to them is not going to help you at all.
Crying is a natural response to feeling overwhelmed. Tears are often the response to pain, hunger, separation, and overstimulation in kids. For most children, crying over small things will diminish as they get older and are more able to control their emotions. This is why school-aged kids tend to handle their emotions better than a toddler.
However, if you do have a child that seems to continue to struggle in this area, there are some important things to keep in mind.
1. Check for HALT
HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. While this is often used for adults dealing with stress, it is also a very good thing to consider with children. If your child is crying because of something small, there could be an underlying cause, making their threshold for overwhelming lower than normal.
2. Ensure that there aren’t any major stressors contributing.
While kids may not have bills to pay or a lot on their plate as far as responsibilities- stress affects them. A major life change, a stressful household, and needs going unmet are all reasons that could be contributing to your child’s ability to become easily overwhelmed.
3. Help emotion coach them.
Remember, kids, need us to help them cope with their emotions. When your child begins to cry, help them. Show them breathing exercises, count floor tiles, take a break, and show them methods to self-soothe.
4. Remember what NOT to do.
Whatever you do, do not make a big deal out of things. When it comes down to it, other than helping them cope, you do not need to fix the situation. Avoid beginning a pattern in which your child becomes upset and you shift the situation to make things better. Instead, allow them to learn how to embrace and work with disappointment and sadness.
5. Help them understand the disappointment.
Remember, disappointment is a part of life. By acknowledging their difficult feelings, you are saying, “It’s okay to be disappointed. I know it doesn’t feel that way, but everything is going to be okay. You will be okay. You may not feel okay right now, and that is okay too.”