You’ve probably seen the screaming toddler in the middle of the grocery store and thought to yourself, “My child will never do that!” Lo and behold, it’s happened--now you’re the mom with the screaming toddler you swore you would never have. Crying for just about everything is part of toddler territory. It’s a frustrating time for mom and child, but you can take some steps to prevent a few tears.
Identify the cause of the crying. Is she tired, hungry, frustrated or overwhelmed? If she’s tired, give her opportunities for more sleep and don’t take her out when she’s not rested. If hunger triggers a crying jag, make sure you provide three meals and a couple snacks every day. If she’s frustrated or overwhelmed, take note of those situations and try to avoid them. Events like group play dates or shopping trips may be too much for some toddlers to handle.
Give positive attention when he’s not whining or crying to reinforce the type of behavior you want.
Distract her if she’s upset because she wants something. Toddlers have short attention spans, so if you offer her something else you know she likes, she’ll be easily distracted. For example, if she wants the TV remote, offer her one of her favorite toys instead. Of course, it is helpful if you keep objects you don’t want her to play with out of sight.
Listen to your toddler and reinforce his feelings. If he’s upset, ask him why. If he can’t talk yet, he can most likely point you in the right direction with gestures or by walking you to the cause of his crying. For example, if a toy has rolled under the couch, you can say “You’re upset because your toy went under the couch. That’s okay, mommy will get it for you.”
Choose your battles. Is it really the end of the world if your daughter wants to wear a plaid shirt with polka dot pants? She may look funny, but it’s not worth fighting over. Your time is better spent on safety issues such as staying in her car seat, holding your hand or not running in the street.
Spend more time with your son. His crying might be a plea for more attention. Do something he enjoys, such as playing at the park, coloring or going for a walk.
Give your toddler choices. At this age, she doesn’t feel like she has very much control over the world around her. Giving her choices gives her a little bit of control. For example, hold up her socks and ask if she wants to wear white socks or blue socks.
Keep tasks, games and projects age appropriate. For example, don’t give your toddler a 50-piece puzzle that will frustrate him because he can't do it. Offer him a small, chunky peg puzzle instead.
Mean “no” when you say it. If she wants something she can’t have or is doing something she shouldn’t, be firm in your “no.” She may cry, but the best response in this case is no response unless she’s going to hurt herself or someone else. If you give in to the crying, she’ll continue to do it.
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