Child Psychologists in Littleton Avoid These Two Tear-Inducing Words

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Sad Child

Kids cry—a lot. In fact, many parents bring their child to visit a child psychologist in Littleton because they cry so much that it gets in the way of other activities. Does your child’s crying interfere with daily routines, mealtime, school, and recreation? Is the behavior interrupting your marriage? Keep reading to find out the two words you should avoid saying—and what works better instead.

Why Do Kids Cry?

Do you remember being a child? If you can remember your elementary school years or even preschool years, you may remember crying over “little” problems, like a sticker ripping in half instead of coming up neatly, a dropped ice cream cone, or the dreaded torture of clothes that don’t feel right! As an adult, you are so fortunate to have a hundred solutions for each of these problems—including getting in the car, driving to a store, and buying more stuff to fix those problems! Now you probably only cry when you are really injured, when someone breaks your heart, or when something devastating happens to your loved ones—problems that have no solutions. Crying serves a purpose. When kids talk to a therapist about what makes them cry, they describe feeling helpless, frustrated, and powerless when they cry. Think back to before you could leave situations on your own, before you could buy your own supplies before you know how many cool things were in the world—those little things do feel devastating, and having no power to change them feels even worse.

Why This Common Phrase Usually Backfires When Managing Kid’s Emotions

If you were deeply upset, and someone told you “stop crying,” would it work? Most adults can see that if their partner responded to them in this fashion after a loss, that partner would get an earful in return! Just like you, your child doesn’t want to cry. Crying is uncomfortable and can be embarrassing in our society—and it often feels out of one’s personal control. Telling someone to just “stop crying” is like telling them to stop feeling pain after being stung by a bee—we wish it was that simple! When your child is upset and you tell them to stop crying, you’re just piling another failure on their plate.

How To Help Your Child Stop Crying

So what can you do to help your child stop crying? Figure out what the problem was and help them to solve it or accept it. Child and family psychologists in Littleton know that not every problem can be solved, but when it can, you can guide your child to that solution. Help your child externalize the problem by naming it, and don’t hesitate to have a little fun—if your child is melting down over a pair of shoes that just won’t tie, why not throw those “mean shoes” to the back of the closet to be “forgotten forever!” and choose a different pair? If the misery is about a broken item, would your child be interested in taking it to “toy hospital” or shopping online for a replacement? For problems without solutions, focus on helping your child calm down again after expressing sadness for a while. Yes, this means that you’ll have to listen to that crying for a few minutes—but you’ll live! Once your child shows signs that they are ready to listen and move on, speak in soft, soothing tones and help them to regulate their body by encouraging things like “take a deep breath,” “have a sip of water,” or asking if they would like a hug.

It seems intuitive that a direct order to “stop crying” would work, but it often has the same effect as throwing water on a grease fire. Next time your child is crying uncontrollably, remember that you need to address the cause of the fire—or emotional upset—and connect your child with the tools they need to extinguish it. If you need help with this process, or if nothing works to help your child stop crying, visit a child psychologist in Littleton for parenting tools and play therapy.