How to handle crying fits?

So like most toddlers my toddler cries when she doesn’t get her way on occasion. The cries turn into full on painful to the ears type of cries simply because she didn’t get to do something in that instance or didn’t get ice cream etc. I’d taken the time to validate her feelings and try to calm her down that way but after a while this tactic just didn’t work anymore. I admittedly lost my cool after a few of these incidents and would tell her to stop crying. What I’ve noticed now is that when I ask her to stop crying it causes her to try to stop crying in that moment causing her to gulp and try to hold her breath to stop crying. I literally have to tell her to let it out and just cry because it almost seems like she’s gasping for air. I fear that I’ve now created an environment where it’s not ok to cry. I feel awful about this as this was never my intention. Now I’m seeking advice on how to better this situation. I don’t want to deal with the epic crying battles but I also don’t want her to think that crying will help her in getting her way. She’s a normal toddler, she’s not overly dramatic or diagnosed with anything. It’s failure on my part on handling the situations better. She’s my first and I’m still getting the hang of this parenting thing so I welcome advice on different ways of handling and bettering the situations. TIA

  • Raji
    Jul 29

    I don’t have any real solid advice as I lose my cool sometimes too. I try to catch myself from saying “stop crying” or “stop it” when she whines or cries. I try to remember to bend down and hug her or tell her it’s ok to be upset and cry but what’s no is no. Maybe try reading books with her about emotions and feelings to ease her into crying it out and help her not holding her breath. For now, don’t say stop crying to her and let her cry it out and maybe try to just be there and she’ll come around. Just hug her at the end and move on to the next thing. Hang in there...... it’s hard.

  • Liza M.
    Jul 31

    My LO is almost 2 and we have found so far that telling her that when she gets upset over something she doesn't like, it works to say something like "you can cry if you want but the answer is not going to change.". Or just telling her it's okay to cry. This usually seems to validate her feelings enough to prevent a full blown tantrum.

  • anonymous mom
    Jul 31

    What’s helped for us was the book, Little Monkey Calms Down. We read it together a lot when she’s not upset. It gives simple tools to try (take a deep breath, sing a quiet song, you’re feeling sad/mad, etc). Now when she’s upset I will first try those things, saying things like, “calm down little monkey! Cuddle up with your favorite xyz!” It does help over time.

  • Anonymous
    Jul 31

    I just wanted to say that I respectfully disagree with the poster who tells their child they can cry all they want, they’re still not getting their way. I understand where you’re coming from, but in my experience acknowledging feelings is huge. Even as a grown adult, when I get upset about something not going my way it’s not that I expect by verbalizing my frustration I will get what I want, but it’s more that by verbalizing my frustration, I’m looking for someone to acknowledge my frustration. Validation of feelings is so important, and starting this practice early on when our kids can’t fully comprehend what we are even saying is a great way to build the example and show how valuable a simple, “i understand and am sorry you’re angry” can really be. I may be a huge softie, but at the age of 38, if my husband knew I was unhappy and rather than acknowledging it just said, “you can be as mad as you want, we’re still not buying first class airline tickets for the trip to Paris.” (Not speaking from experience or anything, 😆 lmao). I’d be really hurt that he didn’t instead say what he said which was more along the lines of, “I know that coach is going to be incredibly uncomfortable with a toddler and you being 15 weeks pregnant, but first class tickets will cost us $4000 rather than $1000 so I really think this is he right decision for us and our expanding family.” When my daughter gets very upset, I always prefer to give her a hug or get down to her eye level and say to her something like, “I understand you don’t want to take a bath tonight, and you’re mad that I’m telling you you have to. But you had a really great day playing and you’re sweaty and dirty. It is important to wash after a day like this and it will keep you clean and healthy so you can enjoy more time outside tomorrow and the day after that.” I find that whenever she’s cranking up for a serious tantrum and I find a way to calm myself down and talk calmly and simply in terms she understands, everything is better (usually!). There have been times where I’ve tried to say something like, “well I don’t care. You can cry all you want but you’re still taking a bath!” And it helps no one. Just talking indignantly like that increases my blood pressure and upsets my daughter further. But if I take 3 minutes to validate her feelings and explain why I’m making the decision I am for her, she will almost always think on it for a minute or so and then agree and do what I ask/tell her to without a fight or argument. Just my two cents!!

  • E
    Jul 31

    Try “smell the flowers and blow out the candles” for belly breathing. You should try and practice when everyone is calm a few times first. Say why you are doing it and when it could help. Then in the moment especially when your feeling frustrated demonstrate using the belly breaths to calm down. Often Kids will match our intensity. On a positive end, she is trying to listen to you and now all you have to do is shape the behavior. And like most my parenting advice Daniel Tiger has an episode about being sad. This really helped my LO understand its ok to be sad/cry and to move on too. There is one on frustration and deep breathing, we use the song for daily.

  • IV
    Aug 01

    I completely agree with Anonymous, and loved the Paris story! lol .. It's important to validate their feelings. Telling them crying won't help anything is counter-productive.

  • Stacey
    Aug 01

    My little guy is not yet 2. He doesn't understand most conversations on feelings. When he throws a tantrum I just quietly stand there for a few minutes then when he gets most of it out I ask if he is done having a tantrum and we go do whatever he had a trantum over. I do tell him on the way that I know he doesn't like it and is frustrated but we gotta do it. But gotta let him get the biggest part of the tantrum out before he can even try to listen.

  • Maryna
    Aug 01

    Laura Markham’s book and website always help me a lot. Just let her cry and be with her

  • Hayley
    Aug 02

    My son really likes that song and I even made a glitter jar for him. It doesn’t always work but it does seem to help him calm down and take a deep breath.

  • Natalie
    Aug 05

    I’ve been reading “no bad kids” by Janet Lansbury (she has a podcast and website too) and it’s helping. Basically goes along w Paris story’s post (although she seems to be MUCH BETTER at it than I am so far). I honestly just take a deep breath and let my (almost) 2yo let it all out, tell her I understand she’s upset bc xyz and try to explain to the best of my abilities. Still a work in progress but I’ve found the book pretty helpful and a pretty easy read

  • Anonymous
    Aug 10

    It’s so hard not to lose your patience. I let my daughter cry, I try to talk to her and explain things like “ we’ll have ice-cream after dinner” and if she lets me I’ll hold her until she’s calmed down; and remind her I love her but that’s literally best case scenario and more often than not idk what to do because she won’t listen, or let me console her.