It’s hard to see a child cry, and it’s only natural to want to comfort and console them. But what if the little one pushes you away and says no to your affection? What does this behavior mean, and what’s the appropriate response?
When a toddler pushes you away when crying, don’t get upset or angry with them. Instead, be more compassionate and try understanding what’s causing the behavior. If that doesn’t help, respect their desire to be alone, wait till they calm down, and then approach them to help or console them.
In this article, I’ll cover some tips and tricks you should keep in mind and try out on a toddler that’s crying but won’t let you comfort them. By the end, you should have a basic understanding of why some toddlers act like this and the best way to handle this behavior.
Things You Should Do if a Child Pushes You Away When Crying
Here are 5 things you should do if a child pushes you away when crying:
- Don’t get upset and take it personally.
- Try to understand what’s wrong.
- Help them articulate their problems.
- Let them know you’re there for them.
- Respect their desires and wait.
In the following sections, I’ll discuss these methods in more detail to help you understand precisely what you should do and why it’s helpful.
Don’t Get Upset and Take It Personally
If a toddler is crying and pushing you away, you might think you’ve done something wrong or they are mad at you. But that’s rarely ever the case.
Children develop a sense of self-independence around the age of 2-3 and want to express their thoughts and desires.
However, their language skills aren’t quite as developed, and they struggle to articulate themselves. This can make them feel frustrated, anxious, and angry, causing them to throw temper tantrums (source).
If the child feels too overwhelmed with heightened emotions, they can push you away and want to be left alone.
As such, there’s no need to get upset about this behavior. Instead, keep focusing on comforting and consoling the little one.
Try To Understand What’s Wrong
If a 1 to 3-year-old is crying, it indicates something is wrong (source). But without knowing what the problem is, how can you offer a solution?
Maybe you’re not offering the right kind of help, so the child pushes you away and rejects your assistance.
You can’t expect a toddler to give you an eloquent answer about what’s bothering them; they might not even understand it themselves.
As such, instead of offering random help, try to understand the source of the problem.
I’ll help you out by sharing some common reasons toddlers can start crying and become unconsolable:
- Lack of sleep
- Feeling too hot or too cold
You can start by checking for these issues to determine what may be causing the toddler distress.
Help Them Articulate Their Problems
If you can’t figure out what’s bothering the little fellow, you should help them find a way to let you know.
Play 20 questions with the little guy. Ask them a few “yes or no” questions to help you narrow down where the problem is.
Here are a few sample questions to help you get started:
- Does your head or tummy hurt?
- Did you get hurt while you were playing? (do you have a booboo?)
- Did someone hurt your feelings?
- Are you hungry?
- Are you sleepy?
- Are you angry?
Let Them Know You’re There for Them
If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with the toddler and help them with their problem, there’s no need to panic or become anxious. If you stress out, the child will notice it, which might make them feel even more overwhelmed.
Instead, stay calm, keep a warm and compassionate demeanor, and give the child companionship.
If they push you away, stay where they are comfortable, and be in their line of sight so they can see you are available. Make them feel that you’re there for them and that you care. Make them feel there’s no pressure to talk–but if they want to talk, you are there for them.
Just wait and give it some time. You can also tell the child reassuring words like:
- “It’s okay.”
- “I’m here for you.”
- “Your feelings are important.”
- “I love you.”
Make sure you maintain a low, quiet, and empathetic tone while doing so.
See my guide on What To Do When a Toddler Doesn’t Respond to “No”.
Respect Their Desires and Wait
You can ask the toddler if there’s anything you can do to help them feel better. If they say yes, you can follow their instructions and see if that helps.
Depending on the situation, you might just need to wait a few minutes. It’s important to be patient and not push your toddler into being consoled too early.
Once they calm down, you can dig deeper and figure out what has caused them to be so upset.
If a toddler is crying and pushing you away when you try to help, it’s important not to get upset and take it personally. The child is likely overwhelmed with emotion, which is triggering this behavior.
As long as there are no obvious injuries or illnesses, it is perfectly ok to just sit near to and let your toddler “be”. Be by their side and tell them they can share all their worries with you when they are ready while respecting their desires and giving them their space.
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