I have a 21-month-old daughter. Sometimes (not always), if she bumps her head, or stubs her toe, or whatever, this results in crying and asking to be held (and not wanting to be put down once the crying has stopped).
My current response to this is to
- accept her request: she's upset, and I don't want to withhold support
- make a show out of examining the hurt spot, giving it a kiss, telling her that she's OK
- try to draw her attention elsewhere ("hey, look at this!", "what's mommy doing?", etc), hopefully hooking her onto it so that she forgets about being upset and lets me put her down (and hopefully also teaching her something about how to deal with pain)
However, recently a family member visited. When one such scene happened, this person's immediate response was to sort of smirk at my daughter (daring her to be upset? haughtiness because she's seen this before? I don't know), and to mock her crying by saying things like "oooh, it hurts sooooooo much!" (Incidentally, this seemed to make the crying last longer, in spite of me trying to comfort her.) This person had raised her own daughter pretty much by sending her to her room whenever she cried; after the crying was over, the child could come out and talk about it.
I used to agree with this method, but now I find it a little harsh (seems like it denies emotional support when requested, thereby creating a situation where the child isn't automatically accepted - and of course the mocking is bad). However, I do worry that I may be "spoiling" my own daughter, or teaching her to whine over nothing, or whatever.
Am I being too "soft", or am I falling for a dangerous cliché? It seems like this sort of "it's only a big deal if somebody's watching" behavior is normal, but is there a risk that it will continue (and if so, what causes it)?