When you have a baby, more often than not you’ll get advice from everyone, whether you have asked for it or not. Whilst people are usually trying to help you, every parent is different, and a lot of the advice will be conflicting.
One of the most hotly debated parenting problems is whether or not you should allow your child to cry, and ignore those cries. Some parents will tell you to leave them to cry, as they will eventually stop and learn that you’re not going to answer their every beck and call.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have parents that tell you that the cry means something, and your child is trying to communicate with you. So, what should you do for the best? Should you ignore your child’s cries? Let’s find out!
Hearing your child or baby cry is one of the most heartbreaking sounds in the world. Your natural instinct is to help your child, support them and comfort them to make it all better.
However, for years now specialists and ‘experts’ have told us to ignore these cries as they are only there for attention. But is this strictly the case? Let’s take a look at what the most common reasons a child will cry for you are.
What Are The Most Common Reasons A Child Will Cry?
When it comes to crying, the reasons are always different. Your child could be crying for a number of reasons, all of which can vary depending on the child and their specific needs.
However, for the most part, a child or baby will cry because they want to require something from you. They cannot communicate to you exactly how they are feeling, or what their needs are, so instead they rouse your attention by whining, crying and wailing.
In general, a child will cry because they have a wet or dirty diaper. Many children will start crying at night because they are uncomfortable due to having a filled diaper.
Children may also cry a lot because they are hungry or tired, and the crying demonstrates that they feel frustrated because their needs are not being met. Being hungry can also make them cranky, which results in crying or whining.
Alternatively, children can cry because they have wind, or feel under the weather. When a child has gas or digestion problems, they cannot let you know that they feel discomfort, instead they will cry and fuss.
Unfortunately, children do also cry because they are bored, and they want attention. Some may also cry out at night because they crave intimacy and want to be held, cuddled or near you.
In addition, smaller children can cry due to feeling overwhelmed, by overstimulation or if they feel too hot or too cold.
As you can see from the examples above, most children cry for you because they want and need something, whether it is food, a diaper change, affection, attention or they need to be soothed because they are unwell or in pain.
Why You Should Ignore Your Child’s Cries
There is a lot of advice and information that supports the idea that we should ignore our child’s cries.
Ignoring the child’s cries is the best way to deal with whining and crying when there is nothing wrong with them, hurting them or they are simply having a tantrum. This kind of crying is often simply because your child is craving attention.
If you consistently ignore this kind of behavior, then it should eventually stop. However, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that you should not ignore your child’s cries.
Why You Should Not Ignore Your Child’s Cries
Other parents and experts argue that you should not ignore your child’s cries. This is largely because crying is a child’s natural instinct and response to stressful situations or discomfort. If your child has an emotion or feeling that they cannot express or meet, then they will alert you to this by crying.
For the majority of children, crying is the only way they know how to express themselves. When a child cries, it is typically because they are under stress, in discomfort or they need something.
Many people believe that children use crying to manipulate adults into getting their own way, but this is actually a myth. Children are not developed enough to use their actions to manipulate you into doing something.
In addition, children crying should not be considered a bad thing, and should instead be a means of providing parents with information about what the child needs.
A crying child needs support and a connection with you, and wants you to soothe them. By ignoring this, you are shunning your child, and teaching them that they cannot trust or rely on you for emotional support.
By ignoring the child, you may actually be harming their emotional development, as this could teach them to mask their emotions, as you will only be giving them attention when they are happy, not when they are sad or uncomfortable.
It can also teach them not to create strong bonds or connections with their peers and other people. By ignoring your child, you are teaching them not to have empathy or compassion, because you yourself are not giving them this, and not leading by example.
What To Do When Your Child Cries?
There are positives and negatives to both ignoring and supporting your child’s cries, so we would argue that you should incorporate both.
For instance, when your child cries, you don’t have to ignore it because society tells you that’s what you should do. However, you should not give in every time your child cries, as they will struggle to be apart from you.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to set healthy boundaries, and not give in to unreasonable requests or constant cries for attention.
That being said, if your child is crying because they are sad, have had a nightmare, or they are in some sort of discomfort, then you should comfort them, support them and let them know that their feelings are normal, so that they feel validated and soothed.
You can also discuss their feelings to help them understand, and regulate their emotions in the future. Kids will learn how to respond to those feelings through your response to them.
On the other hand, if your child regularly cries because of a temper tantrum, then you can express empathy or compassion for their feelings, but ensure that there are rules, expectations and boundaries that need to be upheld.
You can still be empathetic and understanding, but let your child know you love them and care about them, but will not stand for wailing and crying for no good reason.
They will then need to calm down themselves, regulate their own emotions or anger, after which you can then give them attention, and praise them for calming down.
To conclude, ignoring your child’s cries will prevent them from being able to communicate with you, trust you, and can stunt their emotional growth. Instead of ignoring the cries, it is often better to acknowledge the crying, be empathetic and compassionate, and be consistent with them.
It is fine to comfort your child if they are upset, unhappy or unwell and in pain, but you can establish boundaries if they cry simply for attention or because they don’t want to go to bed. Just remember, patience is key in raising children!
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