As we approached the daycare this morning, my toddler tripped and fell to the ground. Immediately, he howled like a coyote and sat in his landing spot like he had broken both of his legs. He wasn't running, and there wasn't anything in his way, he just fell.
I was a few steps behind him, arms full of his lunch bag, his sweater, his stuffed frog, and his run bike and helmet. As soon as he landed, another parent rushed out of the door to his attention, her face wearing a mixed look of judgement and concern as she flashed a glare in my direction. I slowly sauntered over to him, helped him up, said "it's ok sweetheart, let's go inside" and continued on my way, unphased by the fit.
He wasn't bleeding, and it had been a soft landing. I knew his tears were from the shock of the fall, and not from the fall itself. To her, I may have seemed apathetic, and maybe I was, but let's face it, it happens. A lot. And I know from experience that the more I coddle him in these situations, the more he puts on the waterworks.
I remember when I was a new mom. When my precious baby girl would cry, I would drop everything, rush to her side, and do everything I could to put an end to the tears. Seeing her hurt made me hurt and I had to make it stop.
Nowadays, things are a little different. My kids don't just cry because they're sad or hurt, they cry because they're tired, hungry, having fun, not having fun, frustrated, confused, excited, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, busy or bored. Every emotion seems to lead to a random burst of tears.
There's my "fit frenzy" toddler (2yo). If things don't go his way, his tiny little frame becomes hulk-like. I can no longer move, lift or hold him, and his voice becomes deeper, deafening, and despicable. Today alone, the following statements led him to tearful tirades:
"I don't want to wear matching socks! WAAA!"
"I don't want to take my helmet off in the car! WAAA!"
"I can't reach the cupboards! WAAA!"
"I don't like my red shirt, I want an orange one. WAAA!"
"I can't find my yellow car. WAAA!"
And then there's my "spontaneously sorrowful" princess (5yo). She can go from giggles to gloom faster than I can snap my fingers, and for the most absurd reasons. Just today, the following complaints led her to tears:
"It's not fair that my brother's birthday is before mine! WAAA!"
"I'll be so mad if my brother ever gets taller than me! WAAA!"
"I don't like my dinner! WAAA!"
"My brother won't give me a hug. WAAA!"
In case you've lost track, that's 9 cries. In one day. And I'm at work all day, so that's all within a 3 hour window.
I love my little emotional monkeys, but tears won't work with me. If they're frustrated, need help, want something else or they don't want anything at all, they need to use their words. Tears and whiny voices are simply not acceptable in those situations.
Don't get me wrong, my heart isn't entirely made of ice. A big boo boo or a little scratch - I'll give them a loving hug and a hundred healing mommy kisses. But those manipulative, antagonistic, or overtired tears? Cry me a river sweetheart, and take a little time out. Mama's not falling for it.
Do your kids overuse the waterworks to get what they want? How do you handle it?