17 answers

5 Year-Old Cries Easily

My beloved 5 year-old cries at every disappointment. She always has since day 1 and I am worried about her getting teased in Kindergarten. If she doesn't get what she wants, she cries. If someone hurts her feelings, she cries. I have told her you just cry if your hurt, a billion times. I've told her the story of the boy who cried wolf. I'm looking for some suggestions on getting her past this.

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What can I do next?

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Hi K.,

It sounds like she is very sensitive. Crying is not wrong at all. If the kids at kindergarten tease her she will probably stop on her own. Try to help her use language to express herself. When she cries offer her words to use. For example, "You seem very mad right now. Are you mad?" Get her to say how she is feeling and then give her a hug and tell her how proud of her you are for using her words. Try not to get upset. I know it is frustrating but we all should probably cry more than we do. I know it probably seems like she cries too often but I think it is better to blubber on than it is too bottle it up. The best thing you can do for her is be there for her and help her to use her words. Crying isn't wrong at all but she needs to learn that there are more effective ways to show her feelings. As she learns these ways she will cry less.

Hang in there and I wish you the best.

E.

I do a lot of crying myself and i have to tell you that if that is the emotion she is feeling she is going to cry no matter what you tell her. She is still really little and well grow out of most of that. When she crys does she get what she wants? If she does she is going to go to the crying every single time. Even it only happens a few times that she gets what she wants she is going to try it every time to see if it well work this time. I would just let her know that if she wants to cry it os ok but it not going to change anything.
talk to her teacher too. Some the other kids in class might be giving her what she wants if she crys.
A.

More Answers

I have 2 techniques to share with you.

The first one I use a lot, especially with sibling issues, but it works for other upsets as well. When one of my kids gets upset, I ask them to consider the situation and rate how big of a reaction the incident deserves on a scale of one to 10. Let's say the world blowing up is a ten. Then, somebody giving you a mean look would warrant less than a one, and not getting invited to your best friend's birthday party might be a two. When they rate the level of disappointment (or sadness, or frustration), ask them to make their reaction fit the level they've assigned to the situation. This technique helps to remove the child from a purely emotional state and align their reactions to the actual circumstances.

This other technique is useful for the type of situation where one bad moment starts ruining a whole day. Let's say you had a glorious day at the beach, but as you're leaving your daughter's ice cream cone falls into the sand and the stand is now closed, so you can't replace it. I hold out both of my hands and here's what I say: "Losing your ice cream is a real disappointment, but I want you to remember how much fun the rest of the day was. You have a choice. You can live in this room (holding out my left hand), where your ice cream fell in the sand. Or you can live in this room (holding out my right hand) where you got to go to the beach, found the perfect white shell, played with your friends for three hours, built a great sand castle, and learned to dog paddle (or whatever). Which room do you want to live in?" The child will usually choose the second room. Remind them that it's okay to go into the first room, but you don't want to live there. Just visit, get mad, then move back into the second room for the rest of the day. This technique helps to teach kids that happiness is a choice we make every minute of every day.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

If she gets teased over this in kindergarten it's a natural consequence, and might actually be good for her. However, they are only 5 in kindergarten, so most kids don't think that much of someone crying. Doubtful she'll be teased.

1 mom found this helpful

I didn't have this specific problem with my two kids, but I would like to encourage you to not feel too frustrated. Children are very manipulative (and wonderful) and your daughter may well act entirely different in Kindergarten or finally realize that it doesn't get her what she wants. It'll all be fine! Pray about it and try not to worry. Also, I have found that teasing in school really doesn't start until in later years - at least that's been my experience. I haven't seen or heard of any teasing about anything in Kindergarten or first grade so keep enjoying your angel and relax.

1 mom found this helpful

I do a lot of crying myself and i have to tell you that if that is the emotion she is feeling she is going to cry no matter what you tell her. She is still really little and well grow out of most of that. When she crys does she get what she wants? If she does she is going to go to the crying every single time. Even it only happens a few times that she gets what she wants she is going to try it every time to see if it well work this time. I would just let her know that if she wants to cry it os ok but it not going to change anything.
talk to her teacher too. Some the other kids in class might be giving her what she wants if she crys.
A.

I understand your concern because kids can be cruel. You have a lot of good advice here. Just wanted to encourage you to respect her feelings and re-iterate that crying is actually GOOD for her. However, you may be sensitive to when she really cries because she is sad as opposed to when she cries to get attention. This is where encouraging her to use her words can be beneficial. But crying when her feelings are hurt is probably a good release.

My 4 year old son used to cry a lot. I had the feeling he was sometimes exaggerating the crying to get attention. I used positive reinforcement whenever he used his words at a time when he normally would cry. Now it is very minimal and when he does cry, I just give him a big hug and let him cry.

Best of luck to you,
N.

That sounds like my son. He's 7 now and he has gotten much better at handling his emotions. Here are a couple things that I think have helped:

When he was 5, he moved into the older classes at our church and was around more kids who were older and more mature, rather than younger. I think really helped playing with the kids a bit older, who had already learned how to deal better with emotions and could kindly encourage him to grow up in that respect. They were good peer role models for him and inspired him to mature. (Until then he was used to playing with friends his own age or younger--little sister's friends.)

The other thing I do with my children is demonstrate back to them what it sounds like when they cry and when they cry at inappropriate things. (I do the same thing with whining, which is another problem at our house...) For instance, we play a game and I lose. I'll say, "Oh no, I lost! Can I cry now?" and I let out a wail. They say, "NO! Stop mom!" I don't do it every time, but once in a while. Like at the store, "My favorite cereal isn't here! Can I cry? (Wail) Oh, you're right--I don't cry for that."

It's a little trickier when it's something that does truly make them sad, but it isn't really important in the big picture, like not being able to do some activity that we were planning on, or a favorite toy breaking. Then I model being sad but not going overboard. We can be sad without sounding like we've lost an arm. I let them be sad for a little bit and if they can't get over it reasonably, I tell them to go finish being sad in their room because it's not fair for everyone else to have to watch all that.

Then there are the times when it's definitely ok to cry. This year we have dealt with Grandpa's death and our best friends moving. And I model that too. "I'm crying because Grandpa has died and we won't get to see him again until we get to heaven. Is it ok to cry now? Yes!"

We've been working on this for years (and with a variety of strategies) and have definitely seen improvement. I don't think this is something that your daughter will get past overnight, but with consistent encouragement and training, it will get better and better as she grows. Best wishes.

I was a very sensitive little girl, and remember people telling me to toughen up. But how do you do that when you're feeling alone, sad, scared, and hurt? I would have loved it if one of my parents sat with me while I cried, let me have my feelings, and then helped me to understand them. Instead I got people telling me not to feel what I felt, or that I didn't feel what I felt, and as a result I thought that what I felt was monstrous and tried to push it all inside. With an eating disorder as a result. Not to say that the other advice you've gotten isn't good, just that sometimes maybe your sensitive little girl needs someone to hold her and love her through her hurt, and help her understand it with words and loving attention when the tears are done.

Some kids are just really emotional. There was a little girl like that in my daughter's kindergarten class last year. The kids didn't make fun of her; they seemed to accept this little girl exactly as she was.

You will probably find that as she matures, she will be able to pull herself together and will cry a little less. School will be good for her. (I'm assuming that she is not doing it in order to be manipulative - if that's the case, then the way around it is to not reward the behavior, of course!)

I don't know anything about this kind of thing, but being the emotional person I am, I think it's best to teach her how to accept who she is and not try to make her change. I don't think she will be able to stop...although I agree she needs to figure out another way to deal with not getting what she wants. I think people cry for more reasons then just being hurt, sometimes we are just sad...or at least I am. That's just my opinion though.

there is really nothing you can do. she is obviously very sensitive. i have cried all my life and people got used to it.
sorry!

My son cries alot too - he's almost 4. I've been trying to help him name his feeling that make him cry. He gets frustrated when he can't get his Legos to do what his imagination cooked up, so we are practising saying "I'm FRUSTRATED!" He whines too ( UGH!) so we pretend we can't understand him until he uses his Big Boy voice. My neighbor tells her Drama Queen In Training ( She's 4) that if she cries or whines for something the answer will automatically be NO. I am stealing that one! It works pretty well.
Also, if one parent gives in to crying or begging it makes the kid try it even harder on the other parent. ( thank you husband!) So, I now tell my son "That works on Daddy - but Mommy doesn't play that game and Mommy's going to tell Daddy not to listen to you either!" Usually shuts off the water works immediately. We have to stick to our guns and be consistent and vigilant. It's hard but it's worth it.
My son notices bad behavior in other children now and asks me why they did that. Go Figure!
Good Luck!
She'll figure out that her friends will avoid her when she cries too much and dry up her act. it is an act, you know!

Hello K.~ I actually experience this a lot because I am a Kindergarten teacher (and this was the second day of school). I have had a lot of criers today, and the best thing is to just have tough love. I tell the parents to leave, which is hard for them to do when their child is crying, but once they are gone the child is entertained by new things in school and does fine throughout the day. I talk to them quietly and re assure them their parents will come get them at the end of the day and have them help me with a project and they forget they were crying. When students continue to cry I let them sit at their desk and cry and I just go on with my lesson and when we start to do something fun then they want to come and join us. It is always hard when you have a child that is constantly crying, but probably the best thing is for her to start school and see that other kids don't cry all the time and maybe she will be able to better handle her emotions. ALso, before she starts school please let the teacher know that you have an emotional child so the teacher has a heads up and will be better prepared for the situation. Also, maybe something from home that she can have in her pocket during school will help so she can always look at it when she feels sad. Hope this helps you.

Hi K.!

Well, it does sound like you may have a sensitive little person on your hands :o) I had one of those, too, but I'm not sure mine was AS bad as yours :o)

I do believe some kids are more sensitive and quick to cry than others. I found that I could not "yell" at my younger one as I did with my older boy. The tears flow too easily for him.

I eventually found way through "practicing" on how I spoke to him. I found that if I gave him warnings to come and eat, then to come and eat wasn't so difficult. You know, things like that.

When there were/are still tears.....I simply hug him and say " I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but this is what you need to do...go ahead and cry for a little bit, then come and join us"...........I tried not to make him feel "silly" for crying.

My son actaully started Kindergarten last year.....he cried for the first 2 months (talk about heart wrenching)....then he was fine. What I found in Kindergarten, was that there were SEVERAL kids who cry at different times :o) My son was not the only one.

We are now approaching 1st grade, at 5 years old. He has truly matured in the crying area, and I think it's because of being around other kids who cry, too.

Don't worry about your daughter (if you can stop trying)...she will be just fine in Kindergarten. Just let the Teacher know your biggest concerns about your daughter starting Kindergarten, like the crying. This way the teacher will be totally prepared for when it happens :o)

:o) N.

I have that same kid it seems, but she's now 8 and going into 3rd grade. I've had this issue since Pre-K with her. They almost didn't pass her to Kindergarten because they said she was too immature to handle it because of the crying. First and foremost, really think back and try and determine if she is a sensitive personality. I had never given that any thought, but in reality, my daughter has been sensitive her whole life. Step one is accepting that she is a sensitive personality and probably always will be. So our job is to teach our daughters how to cope in the situations when they want to cry.

So, starting with Kindergarten, at the beginning of the year, I always tell her teachers that she is a more sensitive personality. I don't expect special treatment for her, but most teachers have dealt with sensitive kids and know how to work with them. Work with your daughter's teacher from day one and try to handle situations as the teacher does so you can give her some consistency in the kind of behavior expected.

On the other side, we've really worked with her on controlling her emotions. We say, Samantha, take a deep breath. Calm down or we can't help you. We stopped being all "oh, what's wrong, oh poor thing" because she's crying (unless she's hurt physically of course). We have had to pretty much put our foot down and tell her "use your words." It has worked. In fact she did great in Kindergarten because she was constantly being kept busy and told, "Use your words". In first grade, she got weepy in the beginning of the year, probably due to the adjustment of a full day, but really no problems with excessive crying. Last year was tough though as some girls got that whole "mean girl" thing going.

Unfortunately, this kind of personality tends to lead to my daughter tattling (she replaced crying with tattling) and being the target of bullies because bullies love to make others cry and my daughter obliges. I actually sent her to the school counselor this past year because the crying was rearing it's ugly head again. It really helped her to hear coping techniques from someone else. It's true, your daughter might get called a cry baby - mine did.

My last words of advice would be to try and get her into something that increases her self esteem so that she feels she can stand up to others and care less about what other think. I didn't realize it back in Kindergarten, but some of the crying and sensitivity has to do with lack of confidence and caring too much about what others think. My daughter has a hard time standing up for herself (she thinks it's being mean). Once we were able to teach her the difference between standing up for herself and being mean, it made a difference. She also has a hard time walking away from situations. We are trying to teach her to say things like, "If you're going to not play nice, I'm going to play elsewhere" instead of taking it personally and crying. We've had some success.

Good luck. It's not an easy thing.

Hi K.,

Our daughter, now 10, is still like this. It has of course gotten better as she has gotten older and more mature. It happens less frequently, but she does still loose it and have a meltdown. She feels things very intensely. I do NOT think she is trying to be manipulative. It feels like the end of the world to her. It's a very tough personality trait to deal with as a parent. I have read tons of parenting books looking for ideas, but most of the usual advise didn't help.

One thing I read somewhere that did help, was to sympathize with her and state in words how she is feeling. (Such as, I can hear how disappointed you are. You were really looking forward to ...whatever it was...) It doesn't mean that you have to agree or understand, it's merely acknowledging that you 'heard' her and understand what she is feeling. I actually find this difficult to do, because I usually get very frustrated at how much she blows things out of proportion. I can't relate, and have to really focus on controlling my own reaction, which is that she "shouldn't" be so upset. But if I can stay calm, and mask my own feelings, and accept hers, she gets a sense of validation, and it all blows over MUCH faster.

Hope this helps,
D.

Hi K.,

It sounds like she is very sensitive. Crying is not wrong at all. If the kids at kindergarten tease her she will probably stop on her own. Try to help her use language to express herself. When she cries offer her words to use. For example, "You seem very mad right now. Are you mad?" Get her to say how she is feeling and then give her a hug and tell her how proud of her you are for using her words. Try not to get upset. I know it is frustrating but we all should probably cry more than we do. I know it probably seems like she cries too often but I think it is better to blubber on than it is too bottle it up. The best thing you can do for her is be there for her and help her to use her words. Crying isn't wrong at all but she needs to learn that there are more effective ways to show her feelings. As she learns these ways she will cry less.

Hang in there and I wish you the best.

E.

My advice is to ignore her when she crys. If she isn't hurt or in danger, just walk away. I had the same problem with my 5 year old daughter, but when I started to ignore her phony cry she would seek me out, when she would try to tell me what happened through her babbling tears I's stop her and say I can't understand you when your crying. At first she became frustrated and try to just talk louder but I would repeat the "I can't understand you when your crying." I then was able to persuade her to take a deep breath, wipe her face and calmly explain the problem. Then I would ask her how she could solve her own problem instead of crying about it. She learned in no time that her crying was not the way to get help when mommy ignored her, so she changed her ways.

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