I asked Joaquin to sit on a chair and stay there for a few minutes because he messed up his older brothers’ chess game. As he sat there, he started wailing as if someone hurt him really badly. I told him, “Joaquin, you have to stop crying now.” To this he answered, “But I’m a three-year old kid. I’m allowed to cry.”
His comment made me pause and rethink the situation.
Mothers are very well aware that there are different kinds of crying. And with every cry, our child is communicating something to us. There is a cry that says “I’m hungry or I need a diaper change.” And as your child gets older, his cry could say “I’m hurt. I got a boo-boo” or “I am frustrated”. And the crying that I normally deal with when it comes to Joaquin, it’s the whining type of crying, that says “I didn’t get my way!” and intends to manipulate the parent to change his decision in favor of the child.
My advice to parents: assess the situation before responding. If your child needs you or something from you, by all means attend to him. But if your child cries to twist your arm so he gets what he wants, do your best not to give in. In cases like this, we would tell Joaquin to stop or he gets disciplined, and would encourage him to talk to us properly without the whining. We have seen how Joaquin has developed more and more control over his emotions in the last year.
If a child cries all the time for every small or big thing, it may well be because his parents have responded to his every cry or whining from the time he was born. Then the parents have inevitably trained him to get what he wants through crying.
Yes, Joaquin was right. Three year-olds can cry. Even 30 year-olds can cry. I guess what really matters is the reason behind the crying.