Some children use crying as a form of manipulation.

How to Discipline Children That Constantly Cry

by Michelle McFarland-McDaniels

Crying is a form of communication for babies. Since they do not yet have the ability to speak, crying is the only way they can notify caregivers that they are sick or have an unmet need. Toddlers and older children, who are able to speak, may cry for a number of reasons. They may be hurt, frustrated, irritated, angry or simply want to have their own way. Regardless of the reason, constant crying can interfere with a parent's ability to enjoy spending time with her child. Fortunately, with the right discipline, excessive crying can be curtailed.


Determine the reason your child is crying. Check to see if the baby is hungry, thirsty, sick, scared or needs her diaper changed. The baby may be trying to tell you something through her cries.

Ensure the baby's basic needs are met. Feed or change baby if she needs it. If the baby is running a temperature or seems ill, contact her pediatrician. Babies often cry when they have gas, colic, fevers, ear infections or other maladies.

Comfort your baby when she cries. When you hold your baby and speak reassuringly to her when she is in distress, it will make her feel safe and secure. It will also deepen your bond and strengthen her trust in you. According to a publication from Iowa State University extension specialists posted on the National Network for Child Care website, this practice results in a child who cries less as she gets older.

Toddlers and Older Children

Encourage children to express their needs verbally. Tell your child, "I cannot understand you when you're crying. Use your words to let me know what you want." Praise him when he verbalizes his concerns.

Give them some quiet time. If your child refuses to stop crying or becomes hysterical, send him to a room with a door for 5 minutes and close the door. Use a timer to help your child keep track of the time that has elapsed. This may need to repeated several times until your child calms down.

Ignore the crying. If your child has been successfully using crying to get his way for a long time, you may have to break him of the habit by ignoring his cries. The behavior will probably escalate before it is extinguished, because your child may feel that he can wear you down. If this occurs, show him you mean business. Put in ear plugs and read a book or magazine whenever he has a tantrum. The goal is to send him the message that you are not even slightly annoyed by his behavior.

Items you will need

  • Room with a door
  • Timer
  • Ear plugs


  • Remember your goal is to discipline your child, not to punish him.
  • Exercise patience. It takes time to learn and unlearn behaviors.
  • Be consistent, insistent and persistent.

About the Author

Michelle McFarland-McDaniels has been writing professionally since 1983. She has written for a variety of online publications including and, as well as "College Outlook" and "San Diego Family" magazines. McFarland-McDaniels holds master's degrees in African-American literature and education.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images