A 3 year old cries annoyingly several times a day, every day. Her mother asks her, “Why are you crying?” The child replies, “I crying.” Mother says, “Yes, I know you are crying but why?” The child repeats her response. Mom is sure that her daughter is not hurt or hungry or unhappy, so why is she always crying?
I have been pondering on this question since I received a comment to my article “Three Year Old Crier.” When I first read the little girl’s reply to mom’s question I felt touched. I admired how her little mind worked. She ignored the actual questioning word “why.” She simply couldn’t understand it yet. Well, if mom doesn’t know the reason how could the little girl know? She is only 3! Mom expects that the girl can verbalize what she is feeling and tell mom what is bothering her. Mom feels helpless. She thinks that the answer is in her “why,” which she won’t receive from her daughter.
However, even adults aren’t able to answer many whys. Why do you make mistakes? Why is your child crying? Why are you helpless? The mind says, “I make mistakes.” “My child is crying.” “I -helpless.” Just like little girl said “I crying.” The mind can’t think straight when the question itself is assuming judgment. “Why are you doing wrong?” “Why are you crying?” “Why am I crying? Because I am crying. Because I have this quality. Because this is me, crying. Because I am not good enough for you.”
When possible, replace the word why with what, when, where. Instead of “why are you crying” ask “what is bothering you,” “where does it hurt,” “when do you want to go eat with us,” “what would make you calm down,” etc.
When children cry, it can be terribly annoying! The best thing is to model calmness and confidence. If, on the contrary, mom is terrified and expects the cry, then it will most definitely come. This is real soul work for mom – to start expecting positive results. This work is not easy. It starts with the efforts on the parent’s part to calm down, to accept fears, and find strength and tools to release them. One can’t pretend to be happy or put on a happy face when feeling fearful of the child opening her mouth and … “here we go again.”
Mom, sometimes things are so bad that to release your fears you need to let your anger out, to get mad! But not on your child. That is why, there is a saying “Take a break from your child.” Let your imagination do all the work. Get mad! Get wild! Feel some relief. Feel a little bit better. Then, continue and you will feel less anger, then less frustration, then ask yourself “wouldn’t it be nice if..” questions. Wouldn’t it be nice if my child becomes more positive and smiles and talks to me instead of crying? Wouldn’t it be nice, if..” Breathe, feel more relief, feel how more power comes back to you. Then you will start feeling hopeful. That is your work!
Parents often forget that children are not just bodies, but spiritual beings. They can communicate without words, but with vibes of emotions and true thoughts. So, the answer to your “why” question to your child is lying in your own emotional work. It is not easy, but it is not that difficult either! Just refocus your attention from her crying to something less depressing, something general. For example, “This will pass, it’s temporary. She’ll grow out of it. I love her no matter what. It’s good that I know exactly what I want. I want to be a better mom.” That’s all it takes. Just think deliberately! Truly prepare your mood before the next time you see your child open her mouth. True emotional work makes magic!