With a title like, “Why you should let your toddler cry”, you might think I’m one of those overly strict parents. Actually, I’m a grandparent who used to be a permissive parent. That is, until I wised up. It didn’t take me long to figure out my kids were playing me like I was a five string band. This was serious manipulation. What’s more, they were missing out on a lot of important life lessons. You’re not doing your kids any favors by attending to them at the first sign of a whimper. Let your toddler cry for a minute unless they’re in danger. It’s good for them.
Struggles build strength and character. Childhood is prep for adulthood. In adult life, your child will have many struggles, disappointments and failures. Let them cry a little now (barring emergency). Give them the strength to deal with bigger disappointments. It leaves them alone with their thoughts to work things out in their head. It teaches them that small struggles are an everyday occurrence.
Show them how to carry on. Crying is how babies and toddlers express just about every feeling they have. Teach them that a little spilled milk is nothing to cry over by making light of things that should be made light of. When I fell down, Mom used to say, “bingo”, in such a way that I knew it was a trivial matter. Therefore, I treated it like one and got right back up. Parents who make a big fuss every time their child skins a knee are raising future drama queens and kings.
Concentrate on the fix, not the drama. So, your toddler did skin their knees a little. The more emphasis you put on the horror of it, the more they will cry. On the other hand, if you focus on the solution, you teach them to focus on the solution later in life. Let your toddler cry a little. Giving immediate attention to tears places value on the dramatic. Show them to handle problems with solutions, not drama.
Allow them to triumph. What’s so bad about coming to your toddler’s rescue every time they begin to cry? It denies them their right to triumph over adversity. While it may be tempting to rescue your child from all life trials, don’t do it. Let your toddler cry to find the reward at the end of the rainstorm. Chances are, they will find their own solution to what’s bothering them. A sense of accomplishment is vital to the human psyche. Let them experience it.
Show them they can handle it. Give them confidence. When you let your toddler cry, it opens up a whole new world for them. One where they are trusted to handle their own problems. It’s OK to give them a hug after a minute. It’s OK to take care of emergencies. It’s not OK to come rushing in like a squawking, flapping mother hen every time they have the tiniest problem. Give your toddler confidence in their own abilities. Let your toddler cry a bit before you come to the rescue. They will be stronger for it. So will you.