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What should I do when my 22-month-old cries when someone around her laughs?

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My baby is 22 months old and cries and hits when someone around her laughs. She acts as if she's upset people are laughing at her. This has gone on for months. As long as she is laughing herself, there is no problem. My doctor says to comfort her, but it's getting a little frustrating, since it's not possible to tell people around her not to laugh. Is this a common thing? Help!


This sounds very frustrating—for both of you!

I'd hesitate to interpret her behavior as being because she thinks others are laughing at her. There may be other reasons for her behavior.

For example, she may be overwhelmed by the noise of someone laughing, especially if it's loud. (When she's laughing herself, she wouldn't pay as much attention to the other person.)

Getting some perspective may help you. Although it may not feel this way right now, I guarantee you that your child will stop acting like this eventually. The crying and hitting are signs that she can't put her intense feelings into words—which is perfectly normal in a toddler and even in a preschooler. Since she can't tell you how strongly she's feeling, she demonstrates the intensity of her emotions by crying and hitting. Once she has better verbal skills, she'll be able to talk to you about what's upsetting her.

That's why your doctor says you should comfort her when she's upset. It's good advice. But I'd take it a step further. I'd also tell her something like "I can see that it bothers you when someone's making noise by laughing. How would you like to laugh, too? Let's laugh together!"

That helps her put a label on what's upsetting her, which will help as her language skills improve. It also will give her some extra attention and distract her, which should help prevent the crying and hitting. The next time someone else laughs, she might try joining in.


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