Often, parents cannot understand why their kids cry so much, and particularly for small things. Pediatricians say it could be an attention-getting technique or it could be that the child is overly sensitive or frustrated at not having his way. Closer home, they could be hungry and tired, or they want their parents’ attention or they feel unloved when they find their parents busy with something else. A child’s mind works in mysterious ways, but once a parent sorts his little out, there can be some amount of peace at home.
Much to their parents’ detriment, some five-year-old’s bawl and sulk at the slightest provocation. Some of the chief reasons for this worrying behavior include attention-getting, frustration at not having his way, expressing unhappiness with what he has and wanting something else, or physical injury.
Why children cry so much: Let’s look at some of the chief reasons for children crying at the drop of a hat:
Things to know why Children Cry
They are tired and hungry: Often, children who cannot express their fatigue and hunger bawl for food and some rest. While parents look for overt signs of pain, injury and loss of possessions, all the child wants is some food and sleep.
They are begging for your attention: When children want their parents’ attention that they can’t get normally, they whine and cry for it. Before kids can learn to speak, crying is their only medium of expressing themselves. Often, with cry-baby kids, this habit lasts just a little longer than it should.
They want something in particular but cannot get it: Frustrated at not being able to get what they want or perhaps they have trouble with getting something they like, children will cry on and on until their problem is resolved. This is because they don’t still have the self-restraint that older kids and adults learn in their growing years.
They want instant help: When your five-year-old whines next and you’re at your wits end wondering what the problem is, ask him to tell you what’s wrong. The moment he verbalizes his need or problem, you’ll know how to remedy the situation. So, if he wants a toy or a glass of milk, teach him that crying for it won’t get him what he wants, but asking for it may well do. Be firm with your child and don’t give in until he asks for what he wants in words.
Once he does as you ask, instil confidence in him that you love him and you’re there for him and his needs. Reward him for his positive behaviour so that he stops crying.
They are overly sensitive by nature: In his pre-schooling days, he can’t express himself in words, so his loud bawling is his only recourse. If he’s a timid or overly sensitive child, reacting to situations by crying excessively could also mean that he’s sensitive by nature, so small things upset him in a big way. They cannot put a brake on their emotions, so their tears come to the forefront like a broken dam.
These kids are very sensitive to the smallest things. Though parents can be very frustrated by such behaviour, these children grow up to be highly empathetic.
Their parents shift attention to a smaller child’s needs: Your five-year-old can feel left out of your world if you, as a mother, get busy with feeding your newborn, cooking or doing something that’s of importance to you. He feels disconnected from your world and unloved. This gives them enough of a gripe to start bawling for your attention.
They don’t get what their friends have: When your kid gets together with his friends at a birthday party, if everyone’s cooing over the sprinkles on a cake and your little fellow doesn’t get as many, he’ll bawl so loudly that you want to do something about it immediately, if only to keep him quiet. At such times, it’s best to leave him alone to solve his problems. If you jump in to sort him out, he’ll always depend on you for help in a difficult time.
Avoid the urge to tell her to stop crying — which will probably just trigger more tears, says Dr. Borba. Hypersensitive preschoolers are very good at reading their parents’ emotions. If you get tense, it tells your child that whatever is upsetting her really is something to get worked up about — and this models the very behavior you’re trying to change. One way to help your child get control of her emotions is by playfully telling her, “Freeze!” “Freezing helps a child stop and collect herself,” says Dr. Borba. Then suggest that she take a deep breath and blow it out through her mouth the way a dragon would.
They feel lonely when there’s a lot of activity around them: If there’s a lot of activity around him with people moving around or if you are busy and can’t give him any attention, he’s bound to feel lonely and cry for you to be with him.
How to help your child: If discipline and prevention strategies haven’t stopped your kid from crying excessively, speak to a paediatrician. It could be a medical problem that’s making him whiny or a mood disorder or a problem with learning. You could also speak to your family doctor for more help.
You can prevent your child from a bout of tears by not exposing him to situations that would cause him to cry. Or, if you have noticed that he cries due to physical exhaustion or hunger, don’t let him reach saturation point where he bursts into tears because he wants to sleep or eat. Give him a snack or drink shortly before he reaches the end of his tether.
Don’t make him so tired that he misses eating his meals on time. If you sense he’s going to get frustrated in a particular situation, turn his attention to something he likes or teach him a new skill.
Here are some coping strategies that actually work:
- Ask your child to take deep slow breaths. This usually helps calm the child. Teach him to breathe slowly through his nose or mouth.
- Now that he’s learnt to count, teach him to count mentally just to distract him from his grief and to get him back to a calm life.
- Ask your kid to go out and take a big gulp of fresh air. Alternatively, ask him to drink a glass of water or go to the bathroom.
- Teach him to hug himself, smile and say, “I’ll be fine.” Soon, he’ll believe what he says.
If you can’t cope with this problem, you should ask for help from your GP or your family health nurse.