Asking a child why he is crying is adding fuel to the fire. So, why then is that our first reaction? My instinct is to inquiry. I have to stop myself every time. Want to know what I do instead?
Have you ever been in a situation where your child is crying at school, or whining, and you have no idea what to say? Or, at least, whatever you are saying is quite getting to the point? Yeah, me, too. As many of you know from my posts on parenting an angry child, I have had lots of experience in this area. Finding ways to help your preschooler or toddler stop crying is not easy.
So, what can we say to a crying child that actually might…oh, I don't know, get him to stop crying, or at least let you in on WHY he is upset?
Newsflash: Kids rarely know the “why”.
The good news is that there are ways to help them identify the “why”. The other good news? A child being upset is actually okay. Sometimes we have to let it happen. Let them experience the emotions in order to be able to grow and learn from them.
5 Quick Ways to Get Your Child to Stop Crying
Being upset is okay. I often tell my child that fact. That doesn't mean I am not firm with my child, or that we don't discipline a child acting out. What I mean is that one of our greatest responsibilities as parents is to help a child develop and grow his emotional intelligence. We won't be successful at that task if we shut the child down.
Asking “why” is often difficult because a child doesn't often know the answer.
Letting a child experience the emotion is key.
Being kind and firm helping the child “explore” the “why” is critical.
One of the greatest takeaways from any parenting book or article I've read in the past seven years is from Janet Lansbury. She emphasizes the importance of being the calm and gentle leader your child needs and wants from you.
Yeah, okay. Right?
Easier said than done.
I hear you. This positive approach is not natural for me. All too often my emotions overtake the moment and my perspective is lost is a flurry of inappropriate and ineffective responses.
I work hard. Every day on how to better communication with my kids. I practice a different approach. I practice being calm, taking deep breaths, being gentle by reminding myself my child is having a hard time (not giving me a hard time). Lucky for me, my boys give me loads of opportunity to practice these approaches!
Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.
― C.S. Lewis,
Looking for Alternatives to What's Wrong?
In a kind, yet firm tone, try these responses to help an upset child!
- Ask “How can I help you?”
- Ask “How can I support you?”
- Ask “What do you need?
- Ask “What is it about…”
- Reflect the statement back to the child
Here is an article from Janet Lansbury that you might enjoy reading: How to Be the Gentle Leader Your Child Needs