When it comes to communication, a child's tools are few and blunt. This is particularly true of infants and pre-verbal children. The result? Lots of crying. In a general sense, crying is a great way to let parents and caregivers know that something is up, but good luck figuring out exactly what. The kicker is that, sometimes, a kid isn't exactly clear what they want or need either, which just results in more tears and frustration for all involved. Things can get challenging and, as a result, there are weird things every mom does when her kid won't stop crying.
If you are reading this article in an attempt to figure out ways to make a child stop crying, I'll spare you some time by honestly telling you: I've got nothing for you. I've been a mom for five years now and, in all my 43,800 hours of experience, I have not found out the key to reliably make a crying child stop crying when they are determined to keep it up and cannot articulate their ailment. I suspect this is because there is no reliable (humane) way to accomplish this. Criers gonna cry, dudes.
But in that time I have discovered some excellent (if strange) coping mechanisms to help get you through such fits of childish emotions. In talking (read: lamenting and/or begging for any and all advice) to other moms, I've realized that many of us have discovered these strategies independent of one another. If I may, I'd like to share some of those with you now:
It is weird to take a child’s crying personally, but it’s so, so hard not to, especially when you’re talking about extended sobbing.
Because you’re the mom: you want to be in control. You want them to feel better (or you just want them to cut the crap and STFU depending on why they’re crying). When your child has been reduced to a shrieking puddle of emotions there’s often nothing you can do about it, and that can reduce you to a shrieking puddle of emotions. It’s not pretty, though every now and then and depending on your kids’ age, your momentarily losing it can shock them into silence. (Don’t get your hopes up, though: most of the time it just means you’re both going to be crying at once.)
Just kind of close your eyes, do some yoga breathing, and feel your spirit rise above your corporeal form as it soars over mountains, through the galaxy, and deep in the ocean. You are one with the cosmos.
OK, it’s not really going to happen, but damned if you don’t try your hardest to just completely zen out in an attempt to block the ear piercing din of your beloved little screamer.
Sometimes it’s impressive how long your child can sustain a note. I once timed my 2-year-old toddler all the way to seven Mississippi, and that’s a long time for a toddler to exhale, you guys. Their lung capacity isn’t the same as that of an adult.
It’s not a perfect solution to dealing with a kid who can’t stop/won’t stop, but approaching the situation with a scientific curiosity can mitigate just how quickly you descend into madness
This is often because you just can’t hear yourself thinking and therefore cannot verbalize a new thought, but you feel like you have to do something, so you just keep saying that one thought over and over. It becomes a sort of chant, usually just to keep you engaged on something simple so you don’t completely lose your sh*t.
I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, so these days my Momtra (see what I did there?!) is usually, “When you can calm down we can talk about this. When you can calm down we can talk about this. When you can calm down we can talk about this." When they were infants it was usually, “Mommy loves you, baby. Mommy loves you baby. Mommy loves you, baby.”
OMG, remember that insane beach party in Antigua?! Everyone was having so much fun and they were so friendly, especially Taylor; that really gorgeous person you’d met earlier that day who couldn’t keep their hands off you and vice versa. The only screams then came from the roar of a bathing suit-clad crowd as you executed a flawless keg stand. *sigh* That was amazing.
(This is sort of like astral projecting, but through time. The nostalgia is a great escape, my friends.)
This one time, my kid’s sobbing tantrum was super repetitive and sounded just like the stomp/claps to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” So I did what, I think, any red blooded woman would do: I sang along, using my kid to drop the beat. He did not appreciate it but, at the same time, he didn’t stop, so I kept it up.
You: Oh wow, really?
You: I know, I know.
You: Well I’d be mad, too.
At this point you’ve probably crossed the threshold into insanity (or you’re about to).
It’s a lot, and there’s going to be more. It’s hard to deal with and that’s why we all do such weird things when it happens with no end in sight.
Good luck and chin up, mama. You do what you need to do to get everyone through this. We won't judge.
Because you’ve done all there is to do, and this candy ain’t gonna crush itself.