Toddler cries easily? Here's how to stop this behaviour

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The typical toddler is confident and content, but yours might be one of those who cries easily at anything and everything.

Her tears flow so effortlessly that you start to lose patience with her. Your crybaby can quickly wear you down.

The most common reason for your child’s tendency to wail at everything is her lack of confidence.

The self-belief of a toddler is remarkably strong in some ways, yet fragile in others.

No matter how bold she is generally, the sight of unfamiliar faces or the prospect of another child refusing to play with her can be enough to reduce her sense of security and make her feel vulnerable. That’s when the tears start to flow.

Build her confidence

The most effective way to help your tot manage her daily routine without dissolving into a heap of sobs is by building up her confidence in small stages.

Reassure her that she’ll be fine and gradually encourage her to be more resilient.

For instance, let her know you don’t mind her crying if she can’t complete her jigsaw puzzle, but that she should still try her best.

Or tell her that the next time she can’t find her favourite toy, she must ask you for help without wailing. Boost her confidence slowly and steadily.

And each time your tot copes with a minor difficulty without turning on the waterworks, give her lots of praise. Let her know how pleased you are that she managed a particular activity without crying.

Is she seeking attention?

But it is also possible that your young child is constantly tearful because she has discovered that this is an effective way to get your attention.

That’s why strategies for helping a tearful child who lacks confidence are usually unsuitable for your little attention-seeker.

The more you fuss over her, the more likely she is to continue behaving this way. Instead, ignore some of her tearful episodes. She’s likely to cry even harder, but do your best not to react.

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For instance, if she tearfully butts in to a conversation you’re having with Grandma, carry on talking as though she hadn’t interrupted.

In addition, aim to take control when your tot gets your attention. This will be achieved partly by ignoring her sobbing episodes and partly by giving her attention when she does not expect it.

For example, after 10 minutes of ignoring his tears until she stops crying, tell her how pleased you are that she is not making a fuss any more.

The combination of these two techniques will eventually decrease her need to cry – she learns that attention can be attracted in more positive ways.

Of course, it is possible that the fact that your toddler cries easily may be a sign of your child’s anxiety and unhappiness, perhaps because she regularly hears arguments at home or maybe because she is jealous of a sibling.

In these circumstances, she cries from genuine distress. Try to establish the underlying cause of her unhappiness by observing and talking with her.

Once the stress point has been found and eased, you’ll find that she no longer cries at everything.

This article was first published in Young Parents.