How to deal with a crying child

By admin
30 May 2014

A worried mom in our Facebook community recently asked for advice on dealing with her young son who cries often. Here’s some help understanding why kids cry and how you could help them deal with their emotions

A worried mom in our Facebook community recently asked for advice on dealing with her young son who cries often. The little boy is currently in Grade 2.

She writes: “I’ve just come from a parents’ evening at my son’s school. His performance in school is okay, but the teacher mentioned he cries a lot in class. It’s not the first time a teacher has said this to me.  He cries over every little thing at school and at home – and gets angry when he doesn’t get his way. I’m at a point where I don’t want to just let it be. Should I consult a child psychologist to find out why he’s so emotional or should I just leave it? Is it normal behaviour?”

Vanderbijlpark guidance and educational psychologist CP de Jager says it’s difficult to be sure what the cause is of the behaviour. He wonders what the father’s reaction to all the crying is or whether the father is often absent from the boy’s life. “It could be that the child is emotionally upset, but the fact that he gets angry when he doesn’t get his way may suggest that perhaps the crying could be a way for him to get what he wants. I think the mother is right in wanting to take him to a child psychologist, where he can be fully evaluated.”

What are some other reasons children cry?

Children, like adults, cry when they experience stress or trauma. These could include, but are not limited to, illness, injury, confusion, anxiety, quarrelling, separated parents or even the arrival of a new sibling. Children also aren’t immune to the media and news. They’re increasingly exposed to violence, death and war, and this could lead to feelings of fear and confusion. Of course mood disorders such as depression shouldn’t be ruled out completely either.

Why your child shouldn’t cry at school all the time

Once children start school, it might be better if they could postpone the tears until they get home as their young peers may make fun of them. Initially they might get sympathy for crying but if done too often, those around them may get frustrated with their behaviour.

Tips to deal with tears

Share these strategies with your child to help them get their emotions under control when the tears are near:

  • Breathe: In through the nose, out through the mouth. Slow, deliberate breaths will calm your child down. Practise this in private.
  • Easy as 1,2,3: Teach your child to distract themself from an upsetting situation by counting items nearby, reciting numbers or doing some basic maths in their mind.
  • Time out: Often the best way to get a hold of yourself (for kids and parents) is to walk away from what’s upsetting you. The child could ask to be excused and go get a drink of water or go to a different area of the playground and ask to be included in a game with other friends.
  • Hug it out: Even if nobody is around to hug, hug yourself! Putting their arms around themself and thinking positive thoughts such as “I’ll be okay”, “I can get through this” or “I’ll tell Mom as soon as I get home; she’ll know what to do” can go a long way to calming them down.

-Dalena Theron

Extra sources: awareparenting.com, psychologytoday.com, livestrong.com

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