Why is my child crying? Let’s start to understand what is going on with these tiny humans. None of this information is to ever condone leaving your baby to “cry it out” or to deprive them of their needs. It is simply to identify correct cues so you don’t end up a zombie or a 24 hour snack bar. Let’s understand children crying and why parents fear it so much.
“A baby whose parents respond become a secure child who is not afraid to venture forth. A baby whose parents continually rescue begins to doubt his capabilities and never develops the strength and skills he needs to explore his world or to feel comfortable in it.”The Baby Whisperer
Being a parent, I 100% understand the fear of crying. Running to your infant to instantly give them your boob or bottle to stop the crying. The constant toddler negotiations to avoid the crying outburst. The “shhs” and the apologies when your child is causing a scene or crying in public. To this day I still sweat whenever my child cries (FYI she is 7!) and I mentally have to restrain myself from running to her rescue and immediately fixing the situation.
The thing is, if we are always fixing things, always doing everything for our children out of our own discomfort, how do they learn independence? How will they learn that life isn’t always going to go their way? How will they really learn anything at all? We also mute their voices. Crying is a baby’s language. If we instantly shush, or stick in a pacifier or boob how will we know what they need?
Children crying is healthy and natural.
Truth of the matter, if your baby isn’t crying when they need something then that could mean something is wrong. You want to hear your baby cry because that means they are alive, thriving, and telling you their needs. Crying is not bad!! Nor does it make you a bad parent if your child cries. Just slow down a little and assess why they are crying before intervening, this could take seconds.
- Look at your routine.
- Is it around the time for the next feeding? Has it been 2-3 hours? Beware of the snack and snoozing! Do you have a hangry toddler?
- Are they ready for their next nap? (if they just ate an hour ago I would suggest fatigue)
- Do they need a change of scenery or are they overstimulated?
- What has been going on in your house today? Guests? Noise?
- Are they cold or too hot?
- How are you? Are you calm? Stressed? Anxious?
- Read all about sleep needs for a child here.
If they are hungry of course, feed them. Don’t always assume they want to eat though. This is why it is important to have a routine, know how long it has been between feedings, and also know the baby’s wake window. If they are tired, put them in their crib awake for a nap. If they are overstimulated make sure not to stimulate them even more by bouncing them around to stop the crying. Instead use quiet voices and bring them to a dark quiet space. Check the temperature and their clothing. To this day my daughter still needs quiet alone time after being in a crowd of people or at an event (to be quite honest so do I!!).
All of these questions can play a huge role in how your baby feels. If you go into your child’s room in the middle of the night angry and upset they can feel this energy and in turn cry harder. In order to calm a baby you must first be calm. This not only goes for newborns but for all children. Always react slowly and calmly.
How our fears toward crying are projected onto our children.
As parents we carry baggage from our childhood, and guilt from our everyday life. Do you feel guilty about going back to work? The hours you spend at work? Do you remember being lonely as a child? Are you lonely now? A lot of times we want to give our children EVERYTHING that we didn’t have and in turn we don’t listen to them at all because we are overcompensating for our own personal benefit. There is a void you feel that crying triggers and it pushes you to instantly want that crying to stop.
I have never met a parent that likes to hear their child cry. Right? No one is ever going to say “Hey, my child is crying, I feel great!”. It’s really hard!! By slowing down and taking a couple of seconds to assess the situation you will learn what your child needs and eventually there will be less crying. This is easier said than done of course, but think of crying as a voice not a negative, bad emotion. If you need help with this Flourish Everyday Coaching is with you 100% to support and guide you through not only learning about your baby but also teaching them self-soothing and independent sleep skills. Schedule your free 30-minute call today!
Why crying is necessary.
Children want to be seen at all ages. As infants it’s their only way to tell us their needs. Toddlers gain some vocabulary but still solely rely on crying not only for need but also learning to regulate their emotions. This continues until children are much older depending how we facilitate this growth. Learning to control emotions takes time but let’s circle back to us shushing the crying too quickly and rescuing. Children have the amazing ability to learn skills, and quickly at that (even as newborn baby).
I will never forget when I finally realized I had to teach my daughter how to fall asleep on her own. It took her three days to figure it out. Three days!! Another example is when Greye went off to Montessori School at 22-months old she learned how to completely dress herself and was potty trained before she even turned two years old. Not because they did anything special (even though the teachers were so amazing) but because they taught the children and let them do it on their own.
Stop rescuing and start teaching.
Teaching children how to self-soothe, independently do things, and most importantly recognizing their emotions and needs can start immediately. I didn’t have this information when my daughter was an infant and I really wish I did!! When my daughter cries now I understand it as dysregulated emotion, and that she is having a hard time. Do I like it? No. Does it make me feel uncomfortable? Yes. BUT I sit with it, and tell her I believe her, and (whatever the situation) is really hard. I don’t fix it, I don’t give in. I just listen, understand, and support. Most of the time when she calms down we come up with a solution together, or she decides something on her own.
Crying is a language, an emotion, and can be all about love, support, and guidance. As Tracey Hogg says; ”This is your life right now, you have a baby and babies cry.”. Babies cry, toddlers cry, children cry, and even adults cry. Don’t label it “bad”. It is healthy, it is life. Honestly I can’t tell you it will ever be easy, but it will bring you tremendous self-growth as an individual and as a parent to slow down, understand your child and why crying is triggering something inside of you. Reach out for support!