How to Discipline Children Who Constantly Cry

By Karen Kleinschmidt
Crying when limits are sent is a common reaction in young children.
Crying when limits are sent is a common reaction in young children.

Some of the underlying reasons for your child constantly crying might include a sensitive temperament, underlying illness or fatigue. It can also be a learned behavior that has manifested as a result of a parent giving in to whining and crying. Crying in young children can serve many purposes; parents have the ultimate responsibility of helping their children to learn to use their words to get their needs met and develop self-control in the process.

Speak calmly to your child and tell her what you want rather than demand she stop crying, according to an article titled "Tips on Dealing With a Crying Toddler" at Encourage your child to use her words. This might require that you say something along the lines of, "Maggie, tell me what has made you so upset." Discourage the whining and crying by calmly saying statements such as "Use your indoor voice" or "Please use your words," according to the article.

Seek to understand the reasons your child is crying. He might need to eat a healthier diet, get a better night's sleep or engage in more alone time with mom or dad. Acknowledge how your son feels -- this can show him that you understand and help ease his crying. If your son was unable, for example, to attend a father/daughter outing and shows his feelings by excessive crying, say to him, "I understand how sad you are. You wanted to go with Becky and Daddy." Follow-up with lots of hugs.

Avoid responding to a temper tantrum. If your daughter begins to cry because you told her no more television, leave the room and ignore the behavior. In this case, the crying is manipulative and giving into it will result in teaching your child crying will get her needs met, according to the article. Children might cry when you place a limit on their actions; it's part of the learning process.

Include your child in chores and other household responsibilities, suggests an article titled "The Discipline Tool Kit: Successful Strategies for Every Age," published at If your child begins to cry and have a meltdown before dinner, for example, include her in simple tasks such as placing napkins or utensils at the table, washing vegetables or helping you put simple dishes together. This helps combat boredom and can help the "witching hour" run a bit smoother.

Take a gentler approach if your child is sensitive. While time-outs might have worked with your older children, a sensitive child might cry excessively when separated from you in a punitive manner. Using alternative methods such as distraction, humor or a firm tone to get your point across, according to the article.

Create the sad face/happy face game recommended in the articled Color a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other side of 10 cards and place them on the refrigerator or a piece of cardboard. Throughout the day, when your child cries, turn the happy face to a sad face. If more happy faces are exposed at the end of the day, your child can earn a small prize or treat. if not, she can try again tomorrow.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.