All behavior has meaning. When a child cries it is the responsibility of the parent/caregiver to determine why the child is crying and respond in a way that is developmentally appropriate for the child. The best response depends on whether the child is scared, frustrated, mad, hurt, confused or otherwise upset.
As professionals, it is our responsibility to support parents in understanding development so they can comfort the child appropriately and reassure the child that they understand the meaning behind his/her cry. Sometimes when we are with a parent who is not responding to the child’s cry, it is difficult to know how long to wait before we approach the child or make a supportive comment to the parent. It is even more difficult to know how to support a parent who laughs at, makes fun of, or yells at a child that is upset. It is our responsibility as professionals who work with families to understand the importance of respectful, reciprocal relationships and to provide strategies to support families in positive relationships with their children.
So, how can we support the parent-child relationship in this situation? How can we support the parent in recognizing their own anxieties related to hearing their child cry and helping them respond appropriately? Remembering that our relationship with the parent is a parallel process with the parent’s relationship with the child; always respond respectfully. One strategy is to wonder with the parent; use some simple questions and follow up with some choices. ‘Why do you think your child is crying?’ ‘What works best for the two of you in these type of situations?’ ‘Your child looks scared to me. How does she like to be comforted when scared?’ ‘When he cries when scared does he like to be held?’
When we approach with curiosity and choices, parents may be more willing to follow through in supporting the child without feeling criticized or threatened. For more information regarding how to support parents in exploring their own feelings, contact our program about the Circle of Security and/or Promoting First Relationships training.
Early Learning Program
At the Community Connections Early Learning Program, we provide a wide range of services, in partnership with families and the community to support the development of young children age birth to 3 years.
Our array of services include: Infant Massage, Parenting, Developmental Screenings, Developmental Evaluations, Vision and Hearing Screenings, Developmental therapy, Speech therapy, Motor therapy, Playgroups, and Home visiting.