Have you as a parent wondered how your little munchkin melts into a puddle of tears at th every instance you say a “no” or he sees you “busy” with something or someone else? Why, these tears do get the child what he wants, he can get his mom read one more story, or pester dad into one more game of rugby. Or simply, get your attention from anything or anyone you are busy with, even if the child was very much comfortable just a nano second ago. This crying when there is actually nothing wrong, or when the child wants the parents’ attention or service, is dubbed as fake crying, and yes, it is very much a truth.
Babies Really Do Fake Cry!
Now many parents would scream that they knew this, and they have another reason to exclaim – science and research has claimed that fake crying is often used by toddlers and infants to seek attention, especially if they have siblings. This study in Japan has analysed cries of two babies over a period of 6 months, looking for emotions just before crying and after crying. Mostly, the babies were mostly unhappy before and after crying, but they also showed some positive emotions before and after an episode of crying. It was deduced, that the infant cried deliberately to get his mother’s attention, and it appeared to be an episode of ‘fake crying’.
Why Do Babies Fake Cry?
- They want attention: All babies and toddlers cry to get their parent’s attention. Whether it is hunger, pain, over-stimulation, need of change, boredom or any other reason, babies resort to crying. (Read – most common reasons why babies cry.)Sometimes it is something they want their parents for, like play another game or 10 minutes of TV time or extra hugs and kisses than what the sibling got. And sometimes, babies cry because they want to get their parent’s attention, without any reason whatsoever
- They are going through an emotional phase: A divorce, a loss of a pet, a death in the family etc. can all make your child feel unsafe. Kids get into fake crying at such instances because they are dealing with unfamiliar situations and want their parents to be around. This fake crying slowly stops once the child becomes used to the new environment
- There has been a change in routine: A change of routine, a new house, a new school or a new caregiver can all send a child into a frenzy and he may cry crocodile tears to fight his feelings resisting the change. This fake crying stops as soon as the child settles into a new routine
- They are unable to express: When babies are learning language, they have a hard time because they do not have words to express the million emotions they are going through. At this stage, many children go through episodes of fake crying because they are less verbal, yet somehow want to express themselves. Speech delay is one major reasons your little one uses tears to express himself
- They want something: Some children who have understood that their parents react to their crying the way they want resort to fake crying when they want a new toy or a new book. Toddlers at this stage purposefully use fake crying to get what they want and toddler tantrums are quite common. Parents who repeatedly give in to these situations will continue to be manipulated by the kids
While common, it slowly becomes a learned behavioral trait where in children understand that their tears does have immediate compliance, and this action has absolute power over others. Sounds alarming eh? That is why it is necessary to curb fake crying in its early phase, lest you get manipulated over small things, by tiny beings.
How To Curb A Child’s Fake Crying?
First, be sure that the child is actually not in any discomfort or problem before going to any of these tips. If all seems well, and you notice your child suddenly burst into unnecessarily crying or fake crying just to seek attention, here is what you can do:
- Tell them you know its fake: In a stern yet calm tone of voice, tell your child that you know these are not real tears and you know he is fake crying. This approach works well occasionally when kids are taken by surprise and will stop crying as they feel they have been caught
- Distract: Distraction works best for babies who are faking tears. If the are crying for some genuine reason, they will continue to cry till the issue is attended to. However, in case it is just a tantrum, a funny song, a riddle, a question may simply make your child join in and stop fake crying
- Get to the source: Ask your child what is wrong, because babies have a hard time expressing themselves and sometimes they cry just so that someone can react and take them out of a problem. Ask simple, open ended questions and attend to the issue. If there is no issue, sternly explain your child that fake crying is a bad way to get attention
- Ignore, sometimes: Ignoring an episode of fake crying could be hard on parents, yet without any reaction, most children will stop fake crying. However, make sure that the child is safe and in no danger whatsoever, and then leave him alone. Remember, any response that they get regularly when they shed fake tears, will encourage them to fake cry more
- Give in, sometimes: Sometimes, like really sometimes, give in to fake crying. Like another story, or another hug or kiss. Sometimes, it really means a lot to a child when he gets that extra bit of attention and love from you. But remember, choose when to give in carefully and do not repeat giving in regularly
The bottom-line is to stay calm and composed and choose when you will give in to fake crying. Do not scream or feel embarrassed, all children and parents go through this phase and they come out of it slowly through constant disciplining.