Question: When a young child (about age 2-6) was crying loudly in the same room as you (for a long time while everyone was trying to eat dinner, etc. or in a way that appeared not to be genuine), what did you do?
The answers were pretty consistent about not allowing children to do this. Most recommended having the child cry in a separate place - a different room, their own room, the car, etc. until they were ready to join the group and not cry. Some took more empathetic approaches than others.
Rachel (and Bennett)
I would take the crying child to a different room, away from the other people, and ask them to explain why they are fussing. Just letting them explain may solve the problem, or maybe there will be another solution. I think the child behaving that way is crying for attention. Help them understand they can get attention in a more pleasant way. They also need to be taught that it is not polite to disrupt conversation, or to be so loud that others cannot talk. The parent may not want to leave the group to take care of the crying child, but that's what parents need to to, in order to teach the child proper social behavior.
Brianne (and Spencer)
I do not remember letting them cry for a long time. I talked to them, asked what was wrong and listened - I gave them choices (all of which I could be happy with) like you may go cry in your room if you just need a good cry, or you may come sit by me and I will tell you a story - Have I ever told you about the flying purple people eater? I also would redirect thier attention - send them on a special errand etc.
I told them big girls who stop crying get to play a game with me when mom is done.
Karen and Lance
We don't ever remember when our children cried during dinner, in the same room. We tried to correct this as soon as possible when it did happen and after a while never had a recurrence. They knew at a very young age (18 months about) that that was not permitted without reason, unless they were hurt. We didn't have tantrums in the store or anywhere else for that matter. Children know what is permissible or not if it is done right and with love. We would put them in "time-out" or on a couch or something until they got the message - in another room. It worked even with our grandchildren. Just put them there kindly and keep putting them back until they learn that unless they stop crying they will have to stay there. Alone in a room is not fun so keep them where they can see you and you can see them so you can keep them there. They will learn.
Samantha (and Thomas)
Even grownups throw little tantrums sometimes when they feel their needs aren't being met. But it's important for kids to learn they can't control their parents by just screaming uncontrollably.
Whenever our kids started crying in a place where they should be quiet, we removed them immediately to a place where they were 1) isolated enough the crying wouldn't bother anyone and 2) boring enough the child wouldn't like it. Sometimes that meant out to our car, where I would stand outside the car until they were ready to go back.
Another key is not getting angry over it. The best attitude is something like, "When you're ready to go back without crying, you can." No extra attention. No pay off emotionally.
Danielle (and Jake)
It varied. Sometimes I walked them to their room. Sometimes I gave them something to cry about....ie, swat on the bottom, then walked them out of the room. Sorry. It really did happen....
Mary (and Robert)
If a child is crying in such a way that it is annoying or disturbing a room full of other people, he needs to be taken out. Particularly if the crying seems more like "crocodile tears," this is not to be tolerated. If the child is truly disturbed, you may sit him on your lap or by your side. If this is a bid for attention he needs to be dealt with.
I believe that early on in this project I wrote about our oldest child who was instructed that prolonged crying "belongs in [your] room." I put a yardstick across the threshold of the room and told him that his crying had to stay on the room side of the stick. Whenever he was ready he could come out to join everyone else.
Sometimes this kind of behavior is a reflection of your stress and calmness on your part will go a long way to relieving the situation. Sometimes they are just tired and need to have some quiet time; he may even fall asleep. Sometimes it's just bratty behavior and they need to make a decision about being in company. In any case, the child's misbehavior must have a consequence and your guests should not be the ones either supplying or receiving it.
Marsha (and Richard)
We acknowledged that they needed to have a good cry but that had to be done in their bedroom so they did not bother others. Once they could be happy again they could return to the family group. This worked very well, even with the 2 year old. Since we did this consistently, they just knew that once they could have a happy face they could come back out. A friend of mine still remembers our 2 or 3 year old son coming out with a big grin on his face to show that he was happy.
Next week's question: Have you ever turned down / asked for release from a church calling because you felt it interfered with your responsibilities as a spouse or a parent? What is your opinion of that?