Just like babies, toddlers cry because they’re hungry, tired, uncomfortable or need to feel connected with you. Once your toddler can talk, it will be much easier for them to express why they’re upset and for you to understand what they need.
Tips to manage your toddler’s crying
- Check they’re not unwell or in pain. If they have a high temperature, they may have an illness. If you think there’s something wrong contact NHS 111 Wales (www.111.wales.nhs.uk) for advice. You can call them free on 111. If you don't see any obvious signs of illness, a headache or earache could be causing them to cry.
- Try to work out why your toddler is crying. Using HALT (Is your child Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?) can be helpful to think about. A snack, some quiet time or a rest might help.
- Stay close and stay calm. It is important that your child knows that you are still there and with them; this might be by giving them a soothing hug, saying something reassuring in a soft tone of voice or maintaining eye contact with them. Model how to respond to feelings of frustration so that you child learns from watching you.
- Is your child worried or anxious about something? Your child may be worried or anxious about going to nursery, moving house or a new baby. Crying is their way of expressing their anxiety. Give your child lots of reassurance with love and make them feel safe and secure.
- Try taking your child out. Go for a walk, to the park or join a parent and toddler group. A change of scenery can help.
- Talk about and acknowledge their feelings. If your child can describe how they feel with words, it can help them understand and manage their feelings.
- Try distracting your toddler. Use a toy or play activity or point out something interesting.
- Do not smack or physically punish your child. This is illegal in Wales. You might think it will stop the behaviour but it doesn’t respond to your child’s needs or teach them how to be calm.
Look after yourself
Meeting up with other parents may help remind you that you're not alone. Your Family Information Service will be able to tell you what’s on in your area.
If you want to learn more about positive parenting, find out what parenting support and groups your Local Authority offer.
Family Lives offer a confidential and free helpline service for families in Wales on any aspect of parenting and family life. To speak to someone call 0808 800 2222 or visit Parenting and Family Support – Family Lives to access the live chat.
Parent Talk Cymru (Action for Children) offer a free and confidential live chat with a parenting coach available in English and Welsh. Visit Parent Talk Cymru