Over the past week, the blog “Reasons My Son Is Crying” has gone viral. Why? Well, I think every parent, especially toddler parents, can relate to this dad and the hilarity of the toddler tantrums. Wrong spoon? Wrinkled sock? You won’t let him lick the inside of the toilet? TEARS. EPIC TEARS. My husband and I have laughed over the entire blog, wishing that we thought of it first.
But on top of the regular toddler tears, we have a different crying problem. We have a 3 1/2 year old “cry baby” on our hands. (Should I pause here to disclaim that I’m not calling my son names? I’m simply a child of the 80’s that has no idea what else to call someone who cries continuously as a way to manipulate.)
Here’s the problem: if my kid is hanging out with other kids and doesn’t get what he wants, he cries. He’s a sweet kid and smart, but he’s also an only child and very used to having the schedule revolve around his desires. Not in a bad way, but just that if we’re coloring inside and he wants to play outside, there’s nothing stopping us from playing outside. It’s not like if he had a sibling and he’s coloring and wants to go outside, but the baby is up from a nap and he needs to wait. So needless to say, changes in activities during playdates that aren’t his idea are not well-received. Which is a little odd because he’s in daycare during the day and the schedule there does NOT revolve around him.
I’m afraid that the neighborhood kids won’t want to play with him because he spends 90% of playdates in tears or tattletelling or whimpering about how he doesn’t like stuff. I didn’t like cry babies when I was growing up. They were just plain ol’ fun suckers. After talking to friends and more seasoned moms, here’s a few ideas we’re going to use to work on his “cry baby” attitude, so the kids in the ‘hood will still want to play with him by the end of the summer.
1. Make Sure There’s Not A Legitimate Reason For Their Tears
I’ll make sure he’s not hurt or hungry or tired. No playdates during naps, no playdates without a snack or water on hand. This way I know the tears aren’t from tiredness or hunger.
2. No Shaming
I don’t want to say “Your friends won’t like you if you keep crying.” That just seems like a big, abstract, mean thing for a toddler to try and understand.
3. Get Down On His Level
I’ll ask him to use his words. He needs to be reminded that we communicate with words, not tears. Also remind him that part of being a friend is doing activities your friends like.
4. Positive Reinforcement
When he transitions to a new activity or shares without tears, praise him!
5. Play Referee
As much as I hate to be a helicopter parent, with toddlers it is necessary to make sure people play fair. If he gives in to his friends one time, then they should consider the next activity to be one he suggests.
6. We’ll Have To Go Home
If he won’t stop crying, the fun will end. He’ll have to learn that he can’t shed tears to get his way with his friends.