10 Phrases You Shouldn't Say to Your Child When They Cry

Read this collection of phrases that you should void saying to your child when they cry. They'll surely help you in those moments.
10 Phrases You Shouldn't Say to Your Child When They Cry
Mara Amor López

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Written by Mara Amor López

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Crying is a form of expression that’s used for different purposes, such as expressing an annoyance or the need to satisfy some basic need. Although we parents know that this is the case, more than once, we’ve reacted inappropriately with our children when they cry. We even say certain phrases that can be harmful to them.

No matter what mood we’re in, the pressures of daily life, and the overload of tasks, it’s important to stop and reflect on what we say to our little ones in times of stress. Therefore, today, we’ll share a list of phrases that we should avoid using when crying. Don’t miss it!

What not to say to your child when they cry

You need to bear in mind that when children cry, there’s always a reason. And although for us it’s silly or something insignificant, for them it can be something very serious.

For young babies, crying is the most effective way to communicate. When they grow up and have the words to convey their ideas, crying is a way of expressing their emotions.

When faced with crying, parents automatically respond with “don’t cry” or “stop crying”, but these types of phrases can be more harmful than we think and we should avoid them.

A fundamental aspect of parenting is validating their emotions and feelings, not holding them back. If they need to cry, they need to, and we don’t have to stop them or embarrass them about it.

We must never imply that crying is a bad thing.

Next, we’ll share a list of phrases that you should never say to your children when they cry.

1. Stop crying right now!

When we say these types of phrases, we repress our children’s expression of emotions and their way of venting. Therefore, we fail to validate their emotions.

It’s much better to use more empathetic phrases, which serve to support them at that time.

2. Boys don’t cry

This is a very damaging and unfair phrase. With it, we transmit a very sexist message, as we tell our son that boys must repress their feelings and emotions.

We all have the right to cry when we feel like it because crying goes beyond genders. In addition, it’s essential to learn to express emotions in order to become healthy adults.

3. Crying is for babies and you’re not a baby anymore

Shaming and ridiculing a child isn’t good under any circumstances. With this phrase, we emphasize that crying is something to be ashamed of and, therefore, repress.

We must make clear that the need to cry isn’t due to immaturity, nor is it something exclusive to babies.

A young boy crying with his arms in the air.

4. You’re going to cry about that?

Sometimes the reason for our child’s crying may seem silly to us, but still, we must understand that their emotional development is different from ours. For this reason, we shouldn’t tell little ones what’s a good reason to cry and what isn’t.

We mustn’t forget that crying is a form of communication when there are no words to achieve express what you’re feeling. Like adults, children cry for different reasons and feel differently.

5. You always cry, you don’t know how to do anything else!

If we use this phrase frequently, we’ll end up repressing our children’s emotions and they’ll understand that crying is something negative that they have to hide. So, if you’ve ever used it, remove it from your vocabulary.

This type of phrase considerably damages their self-esteem, as they emphasize that they cry because they don’t know how to cope with the situation.

More phrases you shouldn’t say to your child when they cry

6. If you keep crying, I’m not going to listen to you

This phrase generates frustration in the little ones, as by ignoring their crying, we make them feel despised because of what happens to them. In addition, it makes them feel unaccompanied or cared for and causes them frustration and anger. Finally, they understand that when they need to cry, they can’t come to us.

When children cry, it’s because something affects them and this is their way of expressing it.

7. If you’re gonna cry, I’ll give you a reason to cry

Using this threat to educate children is never a good choice. In addition to not validating their emotions, we make them feel afraid. Violence can never be used or allowed by parents in the education of their children.

8. Everybody’s looking at you

This is another of the phrases that parents use the most but that you should stop using.

Trying to stop your child from crying out of embarrassment won’t make them feel better. In addition, with this phrase, we also encourage them to repress and hide their emotions.

9. Don’t overdo it

When we tell a child not to exaggerate, we fail to value their emotions or justify the situations that have caused them to cry. Likewise, if we tell them that what’s happened isn’t as bad as they’re making it out to be, whatever it is, we’re not providing the support or understanding that they need at that moment. In the long run, when something happens to them, they won’t come to us.

10. Go cry somewhere else, I don’t want to hear you

Parents may think that if we stop paying attention to our children when they cry, they’ll stop doing it. But, in reality, the message that reaches them is that they’re alone, and this damages the emotional bond with their elders.

We mustn’t forget that when a child cries, it’s because they feel angry, sad, or afraid. So, leaving their side isn’t the best option in order to develop a secure attachment.

A young boy hugging his mom's leg.

Conclusions regarding the phrases that you shouldn’t say to your child when they cry

As we’ve said throughout this article, when your child cries, it’s because something’s happening to them. As insignificant as the reason may seem to you, your child needs the support and understanding of their parents.

Crying is the way to express emotions when words aren’t enough to do it. In this way, it’s important to value your emotions and support your child, no matter the circumstances.

If you’ve ever used any of these phrases or still do, consider eliminating them from your repertoire and using more positive and constructive ones.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Shapiro, L. E., & Tiscornia, A. (1997). La inteligencia emocional de los niños. Buenos Aires: Javier Vergara.
  • Salguero, M. J. C. (2011). Importancia de la inteligencia emocional como contribución al desarrollo integral de los niños/as de educación infantil. Pedagogía magna, (11), 178-188.
  • Elias, M. J. (2014). Educar con inteligencia emocional: Cómo conseguir que nuestros hijos hijos sean sociables, felices y responsables. DEBOLS! LLO.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.