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Toddler crying for no reason? Why it’s happening and useful tips to save your sanity

Does your toddler cry for no reason? We break down the most common reasons why

From the time a child enters the world, they cry when they need attention. As they get older, they may also cry simply when they want attention. And if your toddler is crying for no reason at all, you may be desperate to figure out a method to make it stop. There are a few approaches you can take to solve the issue.

Difficulty

Moderate

What You Need

  • Patience

  • Understanding

  • Determination

Crying baby in onesie

Why do toddlers cry for no reason? Solving the mystery

To know how to make a child stop crying, it is important to understand why they cry in the first place. Crying is an important, if not crucial, part of grief. It is a healthy and normal mechanism by which to show sadness. Crying also serves as a good physical release. Studies show that after crying, people have lower blood pressure. Big displays of tears evolved as a means to demonstrate a dire need for attention.

Remember that young children have a very limited scope of the world, so things that might seem trivial to an adult can be devastating to a toddler. Children experience emotions that are as equally deep as those in adults. They may cry for a variety of reasons.

Exposure to overwhelming stimuli

Too many sensory stimuli can be quite overwhelming because young children are still learning how to process and react to their environment. Too many sights, loud sounds, or anything else that creates sensory overload can cause children to feel frightened and unsure of how to act. So they start to cry.

Crying is an effective distress signal

Naturally, crying is a sign of distress. For example, when a child is in pain or is afraid, he or she might begin to cry. This is a natural response that requires immediate attention, and at some point in your parenting years, you’ll recognize the difference between the cry of distress versus the cry of disappointment or exhaustion.

They’re exhausted and ready for a nap or bedtime

Another possible reason is that they’re merely tired. Sometimes, little ones can’t verbalize when they’ve had enough, and they’re just plain exhausted. So often, they respond by shedding tears and acting like they’re fighting off the need for sleep.

They want attention but don't know how to tell you

Nonetheless, what if there appears to be nothing wrong? It’s possible that they want a little bit of attention. At times, younger children are still figuring out how to ask for a moment of your time. Instead of communicating what they need, they’ll simply start crying.

Should crying be discouraged? You might be surprised

While you can discourage crying, most psychologists suggest you do not. Although many people were raised with the idea that crying is bad, in actuality, it isn't necessary to try to divert a child’s coping mechanisms away from crying.

Crying is really an act of healing, not one of pain, as a person who cries has recognized that something negative has happened and is beginning to process that fact. You should have a kind and nurturing attitude when your child cries. Both you and your child should cry when the urge to do so comes on.

Crying is a person’s first available mode to communicate with their caregivers. There are a number of readily apparent reasons for the behavior. These include your child feeling hungry, wet, tired, or hurt. Be sure to rule out these justified explanations for crying prior to jumping to the conclusion that the crying is baseless.

As your child gets older, they should hopefully vocalize most issues they have instead of crying about them — speaking is more concise and allows the problem to be addressed quicker, so they will want to talk to you. But again, if they do cry, don’t fear. Help is near!

When and how to address crying

For the most part, crying is OK for a child, but there are ways to address your child's crying when their behavior isn't acceptable. If they're crying, you can try to comfort them and address the reason for their sadness.

Ask them what emotions they are feeling. In some cases, a child may be crying as a way to act up and get a parent’s attention. If that's the case, there are some ways you can address the behavior.

Step 1: In these instances, ignore and turn your back on the child (as long as it’s safe to leave the child be). Giving in to purely attention-seeking crying gives your child the idea that crying is an acceptable means of getting what they want.

Step 2: If they want attention to get a certain demand fulfilled, encourage your toddler's best behavior by not complying.

Step 3: Avoid talking about the request at length.

Step 4: You may also let your child occasionally cry to teach them they don’t get everything they want right away.

How to calmly deal with the dreaded tantrum

Tantrums are an example of a time when crying should be dealt with immediately. Unlike attention-seeking behaviors, tantrums should not be ignored. These crying fits usually occur as a way to avoid doing something asked of them. While tantrums aren’t easy to fix, they can often be prevented. Here are some ways you can combat those dreaded temper tantrums.

Step 1: You can potentially decrease the number of tantrums thrown by your toddler by explaining to them prior to a difficult situation that if they start to struggle, you will gently put your hand on their head and offer to help them.

Step 2: Children don’t like having their autonomy interfered with, so telling them about that plan is intended to encourage them to complete the task independently.

Crying can be annoying and frustrating at times, but it never lasts forever. By working with your child to assist them in communicating their needs, you can hopefully lessen the time they spend crying and have more enjoyable moments together. That means a happier life for all involved.

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