This is what you should do if toddler cries easily over minor falls and injuries

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — April 25, 2016
  • 1 / 8

    Every toddler has a unique personality. Some toddlers are content and settled, some are adventurous and alert… and some cry hysterically at the most minor of injuries. 

    You may be astounded to see your little one burst into tears when he gets a slight cut in his finger, or when he tripped while playing on the soft grass. You know he didn’t really hurt himself that much, and you want him to toughen up.

    Nobody knows for sure why one kid cries easily, while another is more resilient to knocks, bumps and bruises. It could simply be due to innate differences in temperament, or possibly caused by overprotective parenting. He has learnt from experiences that sobbing loudly is guaranteed to grab your attention and sympathy. 

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  • 2 / 8

    You want to help Junior become more resilient. That’s not just because you are fed up with his constant howls and hysteria at trivial matters, but also because of the negative effect it has on him. 

    For example, he soon finds that nobody wants to play with him because he constantly disrupts activities with his tears. He also discovers that adults caring for him have limited sympathy.

    Follow these steps to help him become more resilient and less prone to outbursts:

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  • Don’t get annoyed
    3 / 8 Don’t get annoyed

    The angrier you become in the face of his tears, the more upset he’ll become. Your temper can make him feel insecure and intensify his distress.

    Handle the situation calmly even though he is screaming the place down, as if that small bump was the end of the world. Likewise, don’t make fun of him.

    Related: Dealing with anger towards your toddler

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  • Reassure him
    4 / 8 Reassure him

    When he bursts into tears because he accidentally bangs his leg against the table, simply reassure him that he will be fine.

    If you stay relaxed, chances are this attitude will eventually spread to your toddler. That’s certainly better than both of you becoming upset.

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  • Consider your own behaviour
    5 / 8 Consider your own behaviour

    Reflect on the way you react to him. If you are a fussy, overprotective parent who reaches for the medical kit as soon as the first tear emerges, it’s no surprise that your young child hurriedly adopts the injured-patient role.

    He has learnt to react this way because of your over-the-top response to his tears.

    Related: Toddler cries easily: how to stop the behaviour

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  • Don’t rush to help
    6 / 8 Don’t rush to help

    You may inadvertently establish a pattern of dashing over to him whenever he starts to cry. But if you fuss over him the minute he starts to cry, he is unlikely to change.

    On the other hand, waiting for a few moments to assess the incident before taking action will increase his ability to tolerate the minor discomfort.

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  • Explain the consequences
    7 / 8 Explain the consequences

    When he has calmed down, tell him that if he continues to cry so easily, other children will eventually avoid playing with him.

    They will be afraid that anything they do might upset him. Even at this age, he wants to have lots of friends and wants his peers to like him.

    Related: Dealing with toddler tantrums

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  • Praise when he toughens up
    8 / 8 Praise when he toughens up

    Look for occasions when he copes without being a crybaby. Let him know how pleased you are that he reacted “like a big boy” that time. 

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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