10 phrases to tell your kid instead of “Stop crying!”

Don’t lose your cool when junior bawls ― try these useful one-liners that should ease your child’s tears!

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As long as you have toddlers in your house, you are bound to endure the occasional loud bawling from your peewee. They could have been fallen out with a naughty older sibling or accidentally tripped and tumbled, or bumped their head into something.

Once the tears start to flow, things can escalate pretty quickly and before you know it, you’re yelling at him to “Stop crying, or else…” before you uttering another threat that only seems to provoke more tears. While you may mean well, using threats to rein in your child’s wailing is probably not a very effective way to stop your kewpie’s waterworks.

Dr Vaani Gunaseelan, a clinical psychologist at Think Psychological Services, notes that threatening your child and avoiding or ignoring your little one’s cries over time can affect the security of a parent-child relationship.

“Try to figure out the reasons why your child is crying — in most cases it is likely due to an unmet need like hunger, discomfort, lack of stimulation or over-tiredness.”

In fact, the best way to stop your child from continuing to cry is to remain calm and try to comfort them by identifying the underlying cause. Dr Vaani advises, “Try to figure out the reasons why your child is crying — in most cases it is likely due to an unmet need like hunger, discomfort, lack of stimulation or over-tiredness.”

You should also address the need by teaching them the appropriate ways to express their feelings, for example, using simple words to describe how they feel. Then, when they do speak up, praise them for communicating their needs.

Remember, the act of crying, much like getting angry or laughing loudly, isn’t bad or wrong. It’s the way these big emotions are being handled that should concern you, especially if their tantrums may injure himself or others. You should not deny them the chance to learn how to regulate their emotions.

Here are other things you shouldn’t do when soothing your child…

* Don’t distract them from their feelings Try to avoid redirecting their attention to their favourite stuffed toy or a cartoon to cheer them up. Dr Vaani says it’s better to let them learn to self-soothe and regulate their emotions than to distract them from it.

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* Don’t ask too many questions Your child is already struggling to wrap his head around the big emotions he’s feeling. Asking them more questions will only overwhelm them further.

* Don’t blame your child for crying You should refrain from dismissing their feelings by blaming them for crying. Don’t say: “You’re angry that your pal took your pencil, but you shouldn’t have left your pencil case open.” Instead, it’ll be good to offer solutions like telling your kid to share her feeling with her pal. For instance, how it makes her feel when her pal takes the pencil without asking.

“Validate that you understand what and why they feel the way they do — this shows understanding [but] not allowing the behaviour.”

* Don’t yell Empathising with your child can do more good than shouting at him to stop.

Besides minding the way you talk to them, the words you use are important, too. Dr Vaani says to use words that acknowledge their feelings. “Validate that you understand what and why they feel the way they do — this shows understanding [but] not allowing the behaviour.”

Try these phrases instead:

#1 “It’s okay to be sad.”

#2 “It’s okay to cry.”

#3 “Would you like to tell me what’s causing you to be sad?”

#4 “You’re right, this feels unfair.”

#5 “I can see that this is really hard for you.”

#6 “I hear you.”

#7 “I’m listening to you.”

#8 “I’m here for you.” or “I want to be here for you.”

#9 “I will help you work it out.”

#10 “You know you can find me when you are ready to share.”

Photos: iStock

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