Children can be stressful! They can be clingy, throw temper tantrums, whine, and cry when things don’t go their way. This week, we’re going to dig a little deeper into these behaviors and talk about how to curb the stress when they come up.
Imagine you go to drop your 2 year old off at daycare. He gives you that look that lets you know he’s not going to let you go easily. He grabs on to whatever part of you he can and refuses to let go.
When your child is in a new situation, clinginess is his way to communicate his uneasy feelings. Since you give him a sense of comfort, having you nearby reassures him that he’s safe. Kids of all ages can do this, from infants gripping your hair, toddlers holding on to your leg, or school-agers refusing to go to school.
You are their safety net.
When your child is clinging to you, don’t try to forcibly pry him off. Instead, gradually start to separate yourself. Sit near them, talk to them, play with them- but don’t hold them. After a while, start to move farther and farther away. This takes time at the beginning; don’t expect it to work instantly. Whatever you do, don’t get angry when they are clinging to you. They do it because they love you!
Picture you’re having a great day with your children at the park. Dinnertime is coming and you tell your children it’s time to go home. Your youngest daughter isn’t done playing, so on the ground she goes. Crying and screaming and throwing a fit.
Meltdowns are your child’s way of expressing their anger. They truly believe something is wrong, and they are dealing with it the only way they know how.
When tantrums are not happening often, it’s best for parents to allow it to play out. The child’s anger, sadness and fear will pass. Take a few deep breaths and carry on, modeling the cool and collected attitude that you want your little one to copy. If temper tantrums are happening all the time, it’s best to look into what is causing the tantrum and find ways to prevent it. When children are tired, hungry, or bored, tantrums are more likely to happen. Learn your child’s triggers and try to stop them before they start.
Crying Easily or Whining
Now imagine your toddler spills breakfast all over his shirt. You need to change before you leave the house. He cries. You get in the car and his favorite song ends. He cries. The cycle continues- crying, yelling, and shrieking for the entire day.
Tears are healing. Research shows that crying almost immediately reduces the level of stress hormones in the body. Crying allows kids to resolve their physical, emotional, and psychological hurts and losses.
For babies, it’s the only way they can tell you how they feel or what they need. If you’ve done all of the obvious checks (hunger, thirst, diaper, etc.) and the crying still doesn’t stop, try cuddling, gently rocking your baby, singing to them, or playing music.
If your toddler seems to cry at just about everything, remember they don’t quite have the ability to express themselves yet. They are learning and experiencing so many new things, but don’t have the words to communicate it. When you see your toddler about to melt down, try to distract them. Use a happy high pitched tone when giving instructions and make sure to communicate with them during transitions.
Remember, if any of these behaviors ever feel like it’s too much to bear, take a deep breath. If you need to, take a step out of the room for a moment to recollect yourself. Becoming angry will only make the situation worse. If you are feeling the stress of these situations, your child is feeling it too. Next week, we will talk about how stress affects our children and how we can identify it.