July 02, 2015

Q: Why is my 14-month-old girl all so emotional all of a sudden? She cries when we say "No", she cries when we don't pick her up, etc. It seems like it is happening a lot throughout the entire day!

A: Children normally go through certain phases, and 1 year olds often have periods when they are very sensitive to being separated from their parents.  Called "separation anxiety," a child who used to play alone happily may suddenly burst into tears when Mom or Dad leaves the room.  Or a child may have a fit when a loving aunt shows up from out of town to spend more time with her.  Called "stranger anxiety," it is not the presence of a "stranger" that sets the child off but the absence of a parent.

If there is nothing in the actual environment that is upsetting your daughter, her weepy and demanding behavior may simply reflect that she is now old enough to recognize how dependent she is to a parent. When a parent says "No," she feels as if her whole world is falling apart.  Smooth over these moments by being reassuring and friendly, but don't treat her tears as a catastrophic crisis. Respond to her in a kind manner, but avoid becoming a complete puppet to her whims.  This will help her move on to a new stage over time.

Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger


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