Kids are little angels but they don’t stay that way when they burst out in tears. As a parent, it’s heart-breaking to see your kids crying, but just yelling ‘Stop Crying!’ or resorting to violent or loud words won’t help. Let’s take a look at why empathy works and things to say instead of stop crying to toddlers.
Why Does Empathy Work?
Crying is a way of expressing feelings. When you use empathy, your child understands and gets that you’re hearing him or her out. Empathy works because it shows that you are a pillar of support and are available to talk to when your child signals for help.
Children are also at an age where sometimes they don’t understand the reason behind their feelings. By sitting down with your child and leaving your ears open, you’re signalling that you’re there as a guardian and are paying attention. This is also why one should not ask a toddler to stop crying.
Positive Phrases to Say Instead of ‘Stop Crying!’ to Your Child
Before you begin calming your child down, remember to take a few deep breaths, slow down, relax, and prepare yourself to be mindful. Saying the wrong things to your child or trying to be empathetic when you’re feeling angry is like adding fuel to the fire.
Now that you’re ready and relaxed, here’s a list of positive phrases you can say (remember to say these in a soft tone):
1. “Hey Champ, why the long face? Why don’t you sit down and tell me what’s wrong?”
This is a friendly way to show your empathy. It signals your kid that you’re trying to cheer him up.
2. “Look at me in the eye. Mommy is there for you and I know it’s hard, so talk to me.”
Saying this to your child lets her know that you can relate to the emotions they’re going through.
3. “Why don’t we go out for a break and have some fun?”
If your child is frustrated or crying because he couldn’t do something he tried, this is an excellent way to take a time-out.
4. “You are absolutely safe with Mommy and Daddy.”
Kids sometimes cry when they’re bullied or feel unsafe. This phrase lets them know you’re there for them.
5. “It’s okay to feel this way, baby.”
If your child’s done something wrong or hurt his friend, he/she may cry because of guilt. This phrase is a good way to help them process those emotions.
6. “Do you mind if I sit next to you. How is your day going?”
Did your kid have a bad day? This one’s an icebreaker that gets them talking eventually.
7. “I know, I hated that stuff too! Tell me what’s making you cry. I’m all ears.”
Your child may cry because nobody’s hearing them out. This is an excellent way to open your arms to them and let them speak their hearts out.
8. “Daddy can help if you’ll tell Daddy why you are crying.”
If your child refuses to talk even after trying some of the above phrases, you could give this one a go. It tells your kid that you’re open to listening but cannot help unless they talk. Kids are receptive to positive emotions, and this is a good way of letting them know that you’re there for them.
9. “Want to give it a go one more time?”
Maybe your child fell off the bicycle or failed to play a game the way they wanted. This statement tells them it is alright to fail a few times before they succeed.
10. “I know it doesn’t feel fair.”
Life isn’t fair. You know it, but your child doesn’t. This statement will help them cope with their first bad event.
11. “I’m disappointed/angry/frustrated too. Let’s talk about it.”
This says you can understand what they’re going through and they’ll be glad to know.
12. “There was this time when I was so angry. I cried because….”
Maybe you have a story because you cried due to getting bullied, getting a bad grade, or not seeing your friends show up at your party. If your child is facing a similarly tough time, narrate your story and tell them how you cried too. This statement opens up your kids and lets parents bond with them.
13. “Always remember, I love you.”
No matter what the circumstances, reinforce with this that you’re there for them all the way.
14. “Do you want me to help you?”
Often when a child fails to perform a task, it’s likely they require some assistance. This phrase is a gentle way of saying there’s nothing to be ashamed of and that asking for help is okay.
15. “Let’s Work On This Together”
Children have a competitive spirit. Sometimes when they hit a roadblock, you have to pitch in. This statement tells you that you support what they’re doing.
16. “You’ll get cookies if you finish your…”
Sometimes a child throws a tantrum by crying when they want something badly. By saying this phrase or something similar, you let them know that their reward is available and not running away.
17. “I remember you wanted this toy for your birthday”
If you can’t meet your child often due to a busy lifestyle, this is a good way to remind them that you care. Maybe they were crying because you forgot something and this is a good way of telling them that you remember.
18. “Relax, you’ll figure it out.”
If your child’s a genius, he may stumble on a wall on his road to learning. Tell them it’s okay and that they’ll get it soon.
19. “Bad moments never last forever.”
If your child had his heart broken by a friend in school or if someone made fun of his intellect, reassure that it’s just a phase and that bad times don’t last forever.
20. “I’d like you to play with me.”
If your child has a tough time making friends, it’s time you step in. Encourage him to be your playmate and dry those tears away for a fun time.
What to Avoid When Your Child is Crying?
Now that we’ve covered what to say, we’ll let you in on a secret- what to avoid to say to a crying toddler. Words can hurt and make the situation worse when not picked carefully. Here’s what not to do when your child is crying:
1. “You couldn’t figure that out? You’re an idiot!”
Not only does this lower their self-esteem but they’ll grow resentment towards you when they grow up. Your child’s human, after all.
2. “Just shut up. I can’t take it.”
Never yell at your child or tell them to zip it. It signals you don’t care about their emotions and makes the situation worse.
3. “Get Out”
Never tell your child to get out or go away when they’re crying. It makes them feel abandoned and in extreme cases, they may harm themselves or run away from home.
4. “Why?! Why?! Why?!”
Children crave support, and when you ask too many questions, it feels intrusive, not supportive. Never ask too many whys. You want to be there for them, not against them.
5. “Your friends wouldn’t have cried.”
Comparing your child’s feelings with his classmates or peers is downright cruel. Don’t say this ever, because it’s what we call being toxic by belittling their feelings.
Good parents are like guardian angels for their kids. Always be willing to hear out what your little one has to say. That way, you foster a positive and open-minded relationship and not something your child hates remembering.