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28month old ds crying about EVERYTHING!!!!!

471 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  soybeansmama
My son is generally good-natured but I am stumped these days as he has developed these crying fits about absolutley everything! i.e. when I pick the wrong colored cup for his drink or when I tell him it is time to brush his teeth. The other day when his playmate was here she announced that the phone was ringing he immediatley threw himself back and cried saying "No! That's my phone!!!
: Sometimes they are real cries and sometimes they are forced fake cries. I have found myself saying "stop crying" or "don't cry" (which I hate to admit because I do feel that it is wrong) when I am at my wits end and ready to cry myself.

I feel that I give him plenty of positive attention and that perhaps this is simply a developmental issue that is age appropriate BUT my tolerance is wearing thin and we are planning a trip to MN in a month and the thought of dealing with these episodes on an airplane is giving me gas...

help me figure it out mamas!
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I am sure I will be flamed for this, but I started telling ds to go to his room if he was going to cry about it. He started crying about everything at that age too. I don't think it is inappropriate to teach your child that it is unacceptable to cry about EVERYTHING. Things that genuinely make them sad or angry or scared, yes, the color of a cup, no. And it isn't because he is a boy, I would do the same for a girl. I have told him that the crying hurts my ears too and that crying about it is not going to change anything. Not because I am being harse, but because it is true: his tears and loudness are not going to get him another color cup. So if he would like to continue to cry about it, he needs to go somewhere where it won't hurt my ears until he gets control of himself. A lot of limit testing happens at this age, including the "how much will crying get me?" limit. That said, I have never forced him into his room. Generally his desire to be with me outweighs his desire to throw a fit and he calms down. Oh, also, if he can't tell me what the problem is, I ignore the crying. For example, "what's wrong?" "I want the red cup!" "Honey, I already gave you the blue cup." "But I want the red one!" "Well, I am not going to give you the red one, you can have the blue one and next time I will remember to ask you which one you want before I pour the milk in it" Followed by increasing wailing. "HOney, you can have this blue cup but you need to calm down" " I don't want to calm down!" " Then you can cry in your room until you are ready to be calm" "NO!" More wailing. After that, when it is obvious he doesn't want to compromise or he just wants to scream, I ignore it and go about my day. I don't stay in the same room, because it does hurt my ears and tends to make me feel angry, but I don't forcibly sequester him. And he calms down in about 10 minutes. For my ds, he really had no idea how to calm down and he had to learn how to do it. He was not able to listen when I tried to talk him down, talking seemed to make things worse, so I had to just leave him to his own devices. Once he is calm, not necessarily completely done crying but no longer wailing and screaming, I would always give him a big hug and talk about what had upset him. But I do not try to have that conversation while he is upset. And I try really hard not to carry any irritation around after the fact. So far it has worked well and at barely 4 yo, he doesn't cry that often. He is a person of black and white, like me, so I have been telling him a lot lately that it is okay to cry, that he doesn't have to hold it in all the time. I do not think this is my method, but rather his inability to see shades of gray. Let the flaming commence!
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Has this been an ongoing thing? If so, do you think he could be overtired? Maybe needs a nap or needs to go to bed earlier in the evening?

My ds (31mo) does this sometimes, and it's apparent to me that he's tired. Last night, for example, was one of those nights. He'd had a great night of sleep the night before and an okay nap - but he was exhausted. Cried about every.little.thing last night.

I got him to bed earlier and he's back to his normal self today.

Another tactic I use when ds is in this type of mood, I ask him to use his words. I never ask him to stop crying. But, I do tell him that while he's crying I cannot understand what he's telling me (which is true) and that when he's finished crying, he can tell me what's wrong. That usually gets him to stop crying in an instant and he'll tell me that he wants the BLUE cup not the red one. Okay, I can fix that.

And sometimes, when ds is in a real funk, having meltdowns about everything - I sit him down AFTER a meltdown and tell him that he doesn't have to cry or yell to get my attention, all he needs to do is say my name. And, that usually works along with little reminders "ds just say my name, I can hear you, no need to yell."
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Steph and Julie,
no flames have to do what works for your family.

I do think it has to do with how tired he has been. His sleep schedule has been wonky lately. I also agree that he is experimenting with limits. I see that in him when he pours on the fake cries. He seems to just be testing it out to see if louder, whinier cries get him things faster. Thanks mamas for your thoughts. I am glad to know that it is not uncommon...

Keep it coming!!!
I swear there are times when they just WANT to cry - like everything builds up and they have a day of sobbing over every little thing that doesn't go the perfect way. Once I see my DS is in that kind of mood (i.e. - what color plate do you want? Red or green? DS: red Me: Here you go. DS: No, I want green!!! I want red!!!! I want green!!! - obviously no choice will work), I just accept that he's going to cry and say things like: I'm sorry you can't seem to make up your mind, so I'll do it for you. If you need some snuggles, just let me know. and then calmly (as much as possible) go about my work.
My son has gone through similar stages - which always seem to tie into being A) overtired and B) about to make a developmental change. It is so frustrating and exhausting at the time, though. I find that it passes in a week or two. The most helpful thing I've found to do is take breaks from him - either a babysitter or let my husband take over for a few hours while I go out. That way I am emotionally recharged and can respond gently to his crying. The other thing that helps him is for me to make reflective statements - e.g. you are really upset about that cup! It is just awful that it is blue! It is making you so angry/sad/etc.
No flames - just an alternate viewpoint. I think that by punishing emotions (eg. by sending kids to their rooms), no matter how 'inappropriate', you sublimate them, especially in toddlers. They could pop up in some strange neuroses.

My DD started doing this - it's very age appropriate. We redirect and tell her to ask rather than cry for the yellow cup instead of the red one. Once she does, she gets what she was crying about, learning to control the flood of emotions toddlers get and giving her power over her environment. She learned fairly fast that crying about something will get her nothing, but asking for it probably will.
It is the fake crying that is really getting to me!!! I am at the point that I am just ignoring it because I don't want to encourage it either way. I am not sure if it is the right thing for me to do...
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