Seems like it might be a common question, so if it is I apologize, but here we go.
I am trying to come up with a way to stop my two toddler boys (2 and 3 years old) from "fake" crying.
I understand that they are crying, even when it's fake because they need or want something, but at the same time I need to teach them to express themselves in a more meaningful way.
To be clear I'm not talking about crying from real "boo boos" or when they are scared, or even when they are cranky or over-stimulated. Those are different issues, each with different resolutions, like tired is taking a nap, and adjusting sleep schedules.
What I am talking about is the absolute needless crying for attention or because they "go there first". For example, if I give kid1 a choo choo, kid 2 will scream like I cut his legs off. Of course at this point we need him to calm down, we can't give him his choo choo, less it come off as rewarding his screaming. So we try, "use your words", or "just a second", but that generally doesn't work either, so now we sit there with kid1 playing choo choos, and kid2 screaming and crying for a good 2 mins.
Then there are the times that they (they both do it) scream, cry, and fuss, then when you finally get them to express why, it's "cup" or "drink" and they were sitting literally 2 - 3 feet from their full cup.
Again we try, "use your words", "what do you need", and "how can I help". But they just keep on crying. Recently we have resorted to "I'm not answering crying, use your words" and just staying close and "working" on something else (effectively ignoring them as they cry) and responding quickly when they do use their words, or even hand gestures.
While we try to make sure the crying isn't for a "real" reason, like needing a hug, it can be very hard to tell. Is there a better way to deal with, and stop they "fake" crying? I know some times we need to be "mean" and just let them learn that crying doesn't work, but I don't want to ignore a real need, just because I can't understand the need.