No parent has an easy time dealing with a crying child, but what if your child cries about everything, every day? How do you handle this parenting challenge as your nerves grow frailer each minute from the screeching sound of their crying?
There can be many reasons for your child’s crying, from normal developmental stages to underlying behavioral or emotional issues. It might look like your child is throwing a fit when things don’t go the way they want, but it is more likely that crying is their way of communicating their need for your help.
No matter how frustrating and exhausting it might be, remember that it’s normal for children to cry, especially when they’re feeling overwhelmed or upset. By providing comfort, offering support, and teaching coping skills, you can help your children manage their emotions and build tools to develop resilience.
Here are a few steps that you can follow to help your child cry less, and some mistakes to avoid when dealing with your wailing child.
Possible causes for a child crying over everything
1. Developmental milestone
Infants and young children cry more often as a way to communicate their needs, and this is a normal part of their development. They are not yet fully developed enough to deal with the difficulties they face. As they grow, they will learn other ways to express their emotions, and crying may become much less frequent.
2. Overstimulation and sensory overload
Children can become overwhelmed by their environment, leading to feelings of distress. This can happen when children are exposed to too much noise, activity, or stimulation.
3. Fear or anxiety
When children feel afraid or anxious, especially in unfamiliar situations, they are likely to cry. An example of an anxiety-provoked emotional outburst is fear of separation from a parent or caregiver, which compels many kids to express their distress by crying.
4. Hunger and fatigue
Children can become irritable when they’re hungry or tired, but they don’t often verbalize their needs as they are typically unable to even make the connection between their mood and their needs.
Pay attention to the times of the day when your child gets cranky or cries more often, to spot whether hunger or fatigue might be the cause.
5. Sickness and discomfort
Children may be irritable and cry more when they’re in pain, uncomfortable, or sick. Especially if your child is teething, has an ear infection, or has other health issues, they will express their physical discomfort by crying.
6. Attention seeking
When children feel ignored or neglected, they tend to get whiney or cry to grab attention.
7. Underlying emotional or behavioral issues
Children with emotional or behavioral issues may have difficulty regulating their emotions, and are likely to express their difficulties by crying frequently. Examples of these issues include anxiety, ADHD, and other issues.
Strategies to deal with a child who cries excessively
1. Read their feelings
Children often cry when they feel overwhelmed or upset. By acknowledging their feelings and letting them know that it’s okay to feel and express their emotions, parents can help their children feel understood and cared for.
2. Identify the cause
Try to find out what is making your child cry excessively. Whether they have an underlying issue or their current activity or environment is overwhelming them, it is important to identify the causes of your child’s distress so you can help effectively.
3. Comfort and encourage
Your child will feel better when you offer comfort and encouragement. Children learn how to cope with their emotions by experiencing discomfort. Parents can offer a hug, soothe them with caring words, validate their emotions, or simply be there to listen and offer encouragement. With parents’ support, kids can learn how to process uncomfortable emotions and build coping skills.
4. Teach skills
Children can handle their negative feelings much better when they have the skills to deal with difficult emotions and situations. Parents can help their children to develop coping skills by teaching them deep breathing, counting, and positive self-talk.
5. Limit triggers
As you identify causes of your child’s crying, try to limit or avoid those triggers. For example, if a child cries when they are tired, parents might encourage a longer nap time or earlier bedtime, while giving frequent breaks to restore energy throughout the day.
6. Avoid punishment
No matter how challenging it is to deal with a crying child, don’t try to end the crying by punishing them. Instead, identify the cause of the crying and tackle the issue directly. Remember, even if it might work for the short term, punishing your child for crying can make the situation worse while failing to resolve fundamental issues.
7. Seek help
If you are unsuccessful in your efforts to find out the causes of your child’s excessive crying and it affects your family’s daily life, it may be helpful to seek the support of a health professional. They can provide additional strategies and support, and might be better equipped to detect the root causes of your child’s frequent distress.
Mistakes parents make when they deal with an excessively crying child
1. Ignoring the child’s feelings
Parents may be coached to ignore a whiney, crying child, in order to stop them from seeking attention. But experts caution that ignoring or dismissing your child’s emotions can backfire, resulting in negative outcomes for your child’s development. Showing your understanding, acknowledging their feelings, and offering your support will never spoil your child, but builds trust and strengthens bonds between you.
2. Punishing the child
Punishing your child for crying will simply misguide your child to the belief that expressing their negative emotions is not okay. Dismissing your child’s emotions will simply distress them further and make the situation worse. Instead of punishment, offer your comfort while limiting triggers. If necessary, change the environment or routine in order to eliminate the causes of your child’s crying.
3. Resentment toward the child
Each child has a different pace of development, and may lack necessary skills along the way, whether due to maturity level, developmental problems, or behavioral issues. Resenting your child for their behavior can not only damage the bond between you, but also damage their self-esteem.
4. Comparing the child to others
Comparing your child to other children is never a good idea, since the growth and development of different children are not comparable. Even each child’s pace of development doesn’t always show equal growth day to day. By comparing him or her with others, you can hurt your child’s feelings instead of helping them learn coping skills and understand their own feelings.
5. Reacting in anger
It might be difficult to stay calm when you deal with a frequently crying child every day. When you feel yourself losing your cool, step away and take a moment to collect your emotions before you re-engage with your child. Parents are role models to their children, so showing your uncontrolled emotion while you try to teach your child how to control his or hers is never a good example.
6. Refusing to seek help
Sometimes parents cannot identify the causes of their child’s distress and are better off seeking help from health professionals. Trained and experienced professionals can provide strategies and guidance to support your child and family, while helping you to manage the situation.
Beneficial activities for a child who cries over everything
1. Play therapy
Children can benefit from play therapy, which uses play as a means of communication and expression. Therapists let a child use toys, games, and art to express their feelings, work through their emotions, and build strength.
2. Outdoor play
Engaging in outdoor activities can help children regulate their emotions and manage stress. Activities like hiking and camping, playing in the park or playground, or gardening can provide a sense of calm and well-being.
3. Creative activities
Spending time in creative activities, such as drawing, painting, or crafting, can help children express their feelings and emotions in a creative way. These activities can also help children develop their curiosity, imagination, and problem-solving skills.
Engaging in sports requires teamwork and working within a set of rules, which can help children learn to regulate their emotions and build self-esteem. These activities can also provide an outlet for your child’s excess energy and any built-up frustration.
5. Mindfulness activities
It’s not just adults that can benefit from mindfulness activities to build coping skills and control their emotions. Activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help children manage stress and anxiety. These activities can also help children develop emotional regulation and resilience.
6. Music and dance
Music and dance can be a fun and enjoyable way for children to express their emotions while venting built-up energy and stress. Children can also build confidence and self-esteem by mastering an instrument or performing dance moves.
It’s essential for parents to remember that crying is a normal part of childhood. Once you find out the causes of your child’s excessive crying, it can be addressed with appropriate support and intervention. If your child’s crying is affecting your family’s daily life, it may be helpful to seek the support of a health professional. Although it might be challenging to deal with a crying child, it’s important to approach them with understanding and care while providing them with the necessary tools to cope with their emotions in a healthy and effective way. With patience and a mindful approach, your children can learn to regulate their emotions. Introduce your child to activities such as sports, dance, and outdoor play that help release stress to better manage their emotions.
Also, check out these posts below for further reading:
- How to deal with a child that lies, and minimize the repercussions
- Positive Parenting Techniques to boost your child’s happiness
- How to get your toddler to stop screaming all the time