When your child needs you and you can’t help

When your child needs you

When children cry for more closeness, or get upset because you can't help them right away, it can be an excellent chance to help them to fully release the sadness they feel.

Once the crying has begun, a loving look or a tender word, an invitation to come and snuggle, to sit on your feet or be embraced by your one free arm still says, “I want to help.”

If your child begins to tantrum or cry, an excellent thing is happening!

Your child is using your offer of closeness  to begin to release his pent-up feelings of upset. Sometimes children “work on” their feelings of helplessness, too, and feel like they can’t walk over to you.

After they've cried a while, they'll rediscover their ability to walk again. They'll have worked through some outdated feelings that were making them whiny and hard to live with. These will clear.

Crying and tantrums heal the hurt, although by all appearances, your child feels worse than ever while it's happening. If you keep offering loving words and gentle looks while he works his feelings through, he'll feel closer to you and much more relieved when he's done. He won't be blaming his unhappiness on his sibling, or anyone else.

His unhappiness will have been scrubbed away by the heartfelt emotional work he just did.

Key to this strategy is your understanding that your love is enough, even when you can't help right away. Your attention during an explosion of feelings (even from the other side of the room) is noticed by your child. Your voice and your eyes will convey your caring, and help to right the wrongs that your child is feeling.

You are not neglecting him, nor are you causing more pain. While you patiently listen to a crying or tantruming child, you are doing a good job as a parent, and your child is doing a good job of getting rid of the bad feelings he doesn't want to live with.

Below, we've broken down some of the most common struggles parents encounter when raising siblings. In each section, you'll learn some insight behind the behavior struggles and some ideas for how to intervene or prevent it.

2 Ways to Prepare for a Brother or Sister

Games to Help Your Older Child Feel Special

Foster More Good Times Between Siblings

When One Sibling is Harsh Toward Another

A Good Policy for Ending Tension Over Sharing

Anticipating and Preventing Sibling Rivalry


Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges

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