Your first instinct as a parent is to smooth the troubled waters when your child is upset. Little ones don’t come with an instruction manual that tells you what to do in every situation. You wish you had more answers, especially when your child is crying. It can either break your heart or frustrate you when no end is in sight. Saying, “Don’t cry,” isn’t good enough. There are better alternatives.
1. You’re Not Alone
Let your child of any age know that you will be there in any emotional moment. Your steadfast presence may be enough to calm your child. This is your opportunity to offer a sympathetic ear, a hand to hold, and someone to lean on. You’ll need to be patient. It may take time for your son or daughter to settle down. Be the port in the middle of the storm, a solid foundation your child can always count on.
2. It’s Time to Take a Break
If some type of activity triggers tears and you’re at a loss about what to say to a crying child, you can always opt for “let’s take a break.” Tell your child he or she can come back to what caused the upset. You may be in the middle of helping your child with homework, playing a game, or doing a craft. Children are unpredictable. You never know when frustration will peak. Taking a few minutes to walk away doesn’t mean anyone is giving up. You’ll deal with the issue when your child has had the opportunity to settle down.
3. Let’s Try Smell the Soup, Cool the Soup
Smell the Soup, Cool the Soup is a great strategy that can help children to calm down when they are crying, anxious, or angry. Ask your child to visualize a bowl of soup. The next step is to smell the soup or take a deep breath in. Then it’s time to cool the soup and let the breath out. Ask your child to try this three times. It’s amazing how well it can work to restore emotional balance. Try drawing a bowl of soup together that can be kept in a go-to place anytime your child needs it.
4. It’s Okay to Feel the Way You Do
When you tell your child to stop crying, you’re suggesting there is something wrong with tears or the emotions that are overwhelming your son or daughter at the moment. Give your child acceptance as you validate his or her feelings. Give your child time to get through a moment of tears.
5. I’m Here to Help
There are going to be times when you are tired or frustrated while you are trying to address your child’s emotional meltdown. It’s easy to lose your patience. You need to control your own emotions and reach out to your child. Tell your child you will help him or her in any way possible. Simply knowing someone is there to lean on can make a world of difference.
6. Help Me Understand Why You’re Upset
When your child is crying and emotional, try and get your son or daughter to express what is wrong. Opening up may help your child to work through the tears. Talking it out may be the only thing your son or daughter needs to get past a bump in the road.
7. Let’s Find a Way to Solve This Problem
Children often feel helpless when they have a problem. Don’t put words in your child’s mouth when he or she is trying to explain the problem. Once you are clear on what is wrong, discuss solutions together. You can both brainstorm ideas that can cut a dilemma down to size.
Your child needs to know that you will always be a source of comfort and guidance. You need to lay the groundwork to open communication from the toddler years. Crying is a natural way for children to express themselves. It’s their way of saying they need you. Don’t ignore or discount their tears. Take a calm approach as you deal with each situation. Try a different strategy to see what works best for your child. You’ll navigate the ups and downs of childhood together.
About the Author
Sierra Powell graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing. She’s passionate about writing, reading, and learning. When she’s not writing, she loves to cook, sew, and go hiking with her dogs.