31 answers

7 Year Old Crying, Emotional, Saying He's a Bad Kid

Hi, I have a seven year old boy, and what I am wondering has anyone gone through this, and is it a phase or something to be concerned about? He cries. When its time to do homework, he cries, when i ask him to pick up his room he cries, certain things make him cry. The part im concerned about is he says that he is a bad kid when he cries, or he wants to die, a few times i have seen him bang his head into the wall or try to dig his nails into his arm (not frequently but a few). I had a parent teacher conference this morning, he's smart as a whip, in advanced classes, picks up on things quickly, and cries in class 4-7 times a day. If he;s not paying attention and the teacher tells him to he cries, if he gets an answer wrong he cries, if he's doing something wrong and she tells him, he cries, and also says im a bad kid,etc... I have no idea what to do. He gets enough sleep, he has friends, he;s a bit bossy-but not bullied, he has food shelter, myself and his father love him and give him attention. He is not in an afterschool program...so he is with one of us most of the day? Am i missing something????

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

And it was just a phase..... thank goodness!

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It seems to me you should talk to his pediatrician. A little crying is normal, but this seems like more...

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Was there any difficult event that happened any time recently? Has someone told him he is a bad kid?

If not, I might be concerned that he may be experiencing some real mental health issues. You may want to speak to your pediatrician about it. It is possible for children to start experiencing depression (purely physiological) or other mental health issues at a young age, so you may want to rule it out. It also may be worth looking into some play therapy for him - therapists work with children through the use of free play to see if they start to act out themes and to begin discussing issues that are troubling them, which is very helpful with young children.

You must really be having a hard time - hang in there, and good luck. He will be fine, as long as his loving parents are on the case!

My son is 9 and has had a couple of episodes like this, too -- banging his head, saying he just wants to die. It generally happens when he's overscheduled, not getting enough down time to process. Stress-induced, for sure. In Waldorf schools they call his personality "melancholic," meaning that he feels sad things very strongly and is likely to be very sensitive to others' pain as well. While we have taken his words seriously, we have also found a way to cope with them. He is just trying to let us know how strongly he is feeling pain. When he says things like he just wants it to be over, we make sure and tell him how sad that would make US feel if anything ever happened to him. Since we started that, he has really taken it to heart and understood the pain it would cause others if he was hurt, and he has pretty much stopped using those words now. We really listen to him when he is in the midst of his sadness, without words, just making sounds that are sympathetic, and then later doing an active listening thing where we feed his feelings back to him and talk about them. Of course, if it ever seems like he really wanted to hurt himself or if he had a plan for hurting himself, we'd take him to a counselor right away.

We have to keep his schedule fairly free and open, and also check in and make sure he knows that he can always tell us anything, without judgement. Check in and maybe tell him stories about when you were younger and felt sad, and what you decided.

I am a hypnotherapist, and I also want to tell you about something that can help called sleep therapy...when he has just fallen asleep, go talk to him and tell him he is a good boy, he's very special and you're very proud of him. Tell him you love him and he can talk to you about anything at all and you'll always love him. Just fill him up with good stuff. It's a very powerful process, and it's amazing how quickly that message gets in when you can say it right to his subconscious. If he is feeling like a bad boy, he has a self-esteem issue going on. That is a subconscious feeling coming out, letting you know that his inner critic, that voice we all have in our head, is not a kind voice. You can teach him to think about himself more positively, counteracting every negative thought with two positive ones. It works!

If you want to discuss it more, email me at ____@____.com luck!

My Daughter is almost 7 and going through a similar thing. I think she is going through a selfawareness thing. She says she doesn't like who she is and she wishes she could be perfect like other kids (who aren't perfect). It breaks my heart, and I just tell her how much I love the person she is, and wouldn't want her to be anyone else. I also encourage her to do her best. I think it is just a phase, and I hope that encouragement and love will help get them through it.


Hi L.- Up until this year, when I decided to stay home with my son,I was a reading teacher. I think your sons school is a wonderful resource. There are many experienced and trained people there that can help you. It might be a good idea to talk to your sons teacher to set up and team meeting. They are often called different things in different school districts. It is a team of educators (the classroom teacher, parents, counselor, school psychologist, other support teachers) You and the teacher can share your concerns and together as a team you can brainstorm ideas.

Please please PLEASE get him to your pediatrician ASAP!!! Believe it or not, young children can suffer from depression and it sounds suspiciously close to that. Very treatable. I was an elementary classromm teacher(mostly 2nd grade) for 21 years and this came up with some children over the years. Hopefully, there will be a diagnosis. Please keep me posted!

He sounds like a perfectionist. There's six in our family (2 parents, 4 kids) and three of those are complete perfectionists. If they can't do something - anything! - absolutely flawlessly, they either become extremely upset or simply refuse to try at all. It sounds like your son is not measuring up to the impossible standards he's set for himself. (My oldest daughter was like that at his age.) Unfortunately, perfectionism is very common in very intelligent children. He knows that he's smarter than most kids, so he feels that he always has to be "better" than anyone else. Any time he sees that he's not perfect - he gets an answer wrong, gets into trouble, has to be reminded of a chore, is late - he will feel as if he's totally worthless. It will take A LOT of work on your part, and the part of his teachers and other adults in his life, to get him to see that perfection is impossible, and he shouldn't expect it. You might want to ask his school counselor or another counselor to help you. Point out the mistakes that amazing, intelligent people have made (the old "Einstein failed math" stories) so that he can see that mistakes do not cancel out accomplishments. Remind him that he is loved and valuable with flaws, because no one is perfect.

When he is NOT crying and is doing something good on his own tell him awwwhoney you are doing such a good job thanks for helping and being such a good kid. Some kids need to hear than more than we think they do. You can show them they are a big help but sometimes they need to hear it! WHen you help him with his home work and you see he is doing a good job tell him so. Maybe sometime have him hel you do something and YOU mess up and ask him for his help. Like spill the floor and when he helps you tell him that you about cried when you spilled the floor because you hate messes but it made you feel so much better when he helped you clean it up then tell him you love him, hes a great little guy ext. There were times i felt like i was a burdon on my parents but it helped to hear that i was a big help and i was doing a good job.
Maybe teach him a bed time prayer so he has something uplifting to make him feel better.
Good luck!

Hi L.,

I agree with some of the other moms who have encouraged you to seek an evaluation to determine what's going on. I've worked with children for 25 years, in a number of different settings, including educational, therapeutic, etc. The behaviors you mentioned do concern me, particularly the frequent crying, statements that he wants to die, and attempts to hurt himself. I would suggest talking to your pediatrician ASAP. It's possible that he has depression, ADD, or something else could be going on that he hasn't told you. It's hard to know, and the best thing would be for a professional to assess him. The good thing is, there are tons of agencies and professionals in the Phoenix area who work with children, and many of them are affordable. Best of luck! Keep us posted, ok?


Hi. Sounds kind of similar to my 6 year old. He is very bright but very whiny and has issues socializing because he gets hurt and upset so easily. He has to have everything his way and others have to do things the way he wants. He also has very little impulse control and does things without thinking. He has been diagnosed with a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder "perfectionism" as they call it, and seems to have a Kids with this disorder seem to be very emotional and dont know how to express themselves the way others do, so they have outbursts or become angry, upset or belligerant. we recently had him monitored by a child psycologist without him knowing. Maybe a suggestion.

Hi L.,
My son is also very sensitive. In fact, we had him tested when he was about 3 1/2 and found that his nervous system has a low threshhold for social, emotional, sound and olefactory stimuli. He, too, is extremely bright and we have him in the Gifted and Talented "school within a school" SAIL program. One of the GT teachers gave me info regarding gifted kids and this sensitivity is typical for GT kids. My son also has selective mutism (anxiety in social situations so deep that he cannot speak) and we took him to several psychologists and psychiatrists. He is currently on anti-depressents and is MUCH better. Although he appears shy to others, he can speak in social situations like class at school now. And his emotions are much more in line with "typical". In fact, I can always tell if he hasn't taken his pill in the morning because he gets real weepy. Have you had your son tested at all? My son is MUCH happier in the SAIL program (he is not so bored and distracted because they move faster and cover more depth-more interesting to him-in his classes now). We had to stress with my son that he is not a bad kid, he just sometimes does bad things or doesn't do the things he is supposed to do. He is very compliant and wants to do the right thing, so we know that it is not intentional and the perfectionism that comes with GT stuff just needs to be addressed. He is much more aware of all of our humaness and falability now (he is 11), and can be a lot more accepting of himself as a result of it. Hope this helps, for me just knowing there was someone out there going through the same thing was somewhat of a comfort. Selective Mutism is pretty rare (1 in 1000), but there are many sensitive kids out there. I also read a book called "The Sensitive Child" that was very helpful. Gave us ideas on how to work with this low threshold in his nervous system. I also realized that I fit the same categories as he does, and I let him know that (he knows he is not alone). I just had to learn on my own how to work all this stuff out because my folks didn't have a clue, but your son has an advocate in you! Keep up the good work. Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done.

Hi L.,
I'm so sorry for both you and your son. My son is now 30 and used to demonstrate some of the same behavior at school and at home. He's fine now! It sounds like he's terribly stressed (not from you) and anxious. Sometimes kids who do well in school still feel great pressure about doing well or fitting in with others. Constitutionally, some people have their volume dial up, reacting overly to what seem small things to others. He feels bad about himself, obviously. Have you taken him to a child psychiatrist? That's what we did, and it helped enormously. By the way, I'm a teacher educator for elementary teachers and see these little fragile ones often. He mostly just needs acceptance, as you know, but that's hard to find for him. E

As a mom who went thru a childhood with the condition myself, I would say you should have him checked out by a child psychologist to see if he may be bi-polar(manic-depressive is another name!).You say he's depressed or sounds that way with his crying jags, suicidal even if only briefly,very intelligent and also SUPER energetic,these all are symptoms of bi-polar disorder.It CAN be treated very successfully and is more well-understood than when I was a child growing up with it.My parents said I was "sensitive" and "the squeaky wheel" because of my behavior as a child.I went thru school in the gifted program in our area until I started really manifesting symptoms as a young teenager.Bi-polar disorder manifests at many different ages & has MANY levels of affliction from very mild to severe so an evaluation is VERY IMPORTANT!A professional opinion can be very helpful along with access to medications,if &/or when they become needed(many who suffer from bi-polar disorder CANNOT function "normally" without a medicine regimen.If you'd like I can recommend a very excellent Child Psychologist with the Tempe School District who diagnosed my son,now 8,with autism at 2yrs 9mo.& it has been the BEST meeting we ever have gone to!If it's not too far from you locally I would definitely say you should try to get a meeting with this man-he's amazing!!!Just send me a message and let me know if you'd like some contact info-we were originally referred to him but NOT by our doctor so I'm not sure how he will want to set you up to have an eval done,or even if he might refer you out-but anyone he can refer you to I would take the recommendation very highly!Any other moms with questions about this doctor feel free to message me and ask!I know a lot about autism as a Parent-Advocate for my son,and would like to have more contact with other moms with autistic children in the same range as my child;he is considered "mild to moderately autistic" and "high-functioning".Please contact me and I hope I can help someone if at all able! :)

L., I have an 8 year old boy. Maybe your son is stressed or overwhelmed at the prospect of certain school subjects or working on his room. Some of it may be to get attention from you. My son has done all the things you stated. Be patient, break assignments into smaller pieces. Try to help him with the assignments. Ask him what is hardest for him and help him to find a way to make it easier or to understand that even if it is not easy he must learn to do it and explain why. For instance with math facts, turn them into word problems for him (if I have 8 cats and 7 run away how many do I have left?).

We had a very similar situation with our son when he was 8 and in the 2nd grade. We tackled the problem from several fronts: classroom environment, medical/allergy problems, redirection and some extra special time with mom and dad.

Even though we liked his teacher, we learned she was a terrible teacher for our son by regularly dropping in to observe unannounced. Because he didn't fit her teaching style, her body language and tone made him feel awful about himself. In retrospect, we should've switched classes, but at the time we were committed to him learning to get along with all types of people. It was a good lesson to us as parents that just because we like someone, doesn't mean our son will.

From a medical/allergy front, his teacher insisted Christopher was ADHD, which we disagreed with, but out of respect, we had him evaluated by his physician. The doctor laughed hysterically when we explained the situation. He was not ADHD. We also had him tested for allergies. Imagine our surprise to learn that 50% of what we were feeding our son was stuff to which he was allergic! Major diet changes, none of them easy, made a huge difference.

For redirection, whenever Christopher had these drama-fests, we'd remove him to a quiet spot, sit down with him and ask him to tell us what the "real" issue was. Most of the time that was hard to hear: you boss me around, you were rude, you let William (big bro) get away with everything, you don't pay attention to me, you name it. We would listen as respectfully as we could (and there were times when that made us candidates for sainthood) and worked with him on better ways to handle this, instead of tears, head pounding, etc. For me, this was the hardest part. It required patience and consistency and, after a long day of teaching high schoolers, I didn't have much of either. Once Christopher truly believed he'd be heard if he talked about his issues, rather than crying or hurting himself, it started to stop.

Last but not least, my husband and I made a point every evening to spend extra special time with Christopher. We called it "cuddle party." One of us would hold Christopher close to our hearts and whisper in his ear how wonderful we thought we was, all the great things he did that day, how special he was to us, how we *knew* he was a good kid. Slowly but surely, we were able to restore his confidence in himself.

I don't know if this will help at all, but it's what worked for us. Christopher is now 10 and all but past the drama-fests. We notice them more when he's tired or hungry, both of which are easy to fix. He still has periods of self-doubt, but usually in conjunction with the guilt of a bad choice.

Good luck!

i have a friend who went through this also. it was not a phase for her son, but they found a way to deal with it.
1. you might want to get him tested for an anxiety disorder. or as a family, get some counseling (many churches will do it free or if you are in a large enough area to have insurance cover a child psychologist, they may have some insight as to an underlying cause).
2. also check out the 'love and logic' method of discipline. it is about helping parents help kids make good choices and accept natural consequences.
3. pray for your son to know his own worth. nothing beats prayer - and speaking positive words over your child.
hope some of this helps you.

I think that there is something going on that he might be afraid to tell you. When my daughter was 5 she had an episode like this. Every night at dinner she would break down crying saying she was stupid and didn't have any friends. Come to find out that the girl sitting across from her was saying this to her during class when the teacher wasn't looking and at recess. She was sytematically moving from one child to another doing this and saying these horrible things. Thankfully, as soon as a few of us Moms put it together and spoke to the teacher it ended quickly. Maybe if you can gently pry a little you will find that there is something similar going on. I feel for you and your baby!! I hope this helps.

If you haven't already, you may want to see your pediatrician and have him talk with a therapist who specializes in children. There may even be a school counselor or social worker that could talk to your child and refer you as needed. His reactions sound pretty serious and this could be something purely chemical, purely emotional or a combination of both. Some kids who are very bright are also very sensitive but this seems to go beyond that and into an area where a specialist is needed. Good luck.

It seems to me you should talk to his pediatrician. A little crying is normal, but this seems like more...

I too am a single mom, I have a 5year old boy, 7 year old boy, and a 9 year old daughter. I know that when my husband and I divorced (2 and a half years ago) it really confused the kids. He got custody and they always had me around. I was a stay at home mom for most of their lives. My kids all acted out in their own way and I've noticed as time goes on they find different ways to act out. Let him know that you love him more than anything. Encourage him and spend as much quality time with him as you can. When he is trying to get your attention really listen. Get down on his level and listen to what he has to say and ask him why he says those things and feels that way. You'd be amazed at what your kids can tell you. If they know that your really interested in what they have to say. Talk to him about how to "fix" it. And reassure him everyday that he is not a bad kid and that you're proud of him.Acknowledge his accomplishments. I've learned that kids can't quite express themselves like we can, but they have the same needs that we do, it just means more to them.

L., I don't know if this will be of help but when my now ten year old was seven he used to do many of the things you mention. My son is a very smart and loving boy, very energetic and very verbal. When he was seven he would get so frustrated when he did something wrong that he would bang his head (actually now I think about it he still does). If he made a picture and something wasn't perfect he would rip it up in a fit of anger and throw it away. This year is the first year we haven't had tears over homework every night. In my son it seems to be a perfectionist issue. If he can't do it perfectly he doesn't want to do it. He gets bored very easilly at school and then misbehaves and then cries when he gets into trouble because he knows he has disapointed people.

So long story short, I think your son may slowly grow out of it. Continue to provide him support but teach him no one is perfect all the time and everyone makes mistakes. I think in a couple of years you may see him mature. It has definately taken my son that long.

S.. 44 year old Mother of four, three boys, one with Down syndrome and one beautiful daughter.

I would definatly speak with the Ped on this one. They can check to see if maybe he has a chemical imbalance that might require treatment. Also, I am wondering if he has been pushed to do well. You mention he is in advanced classes and the such. I remember when I was young doing well was overly important to me, I don't think I was really pushed by my parents to do well, but more by my self. Anyway I would go home sick if I missed one on my spelling test, etc. I still have issues with failure, but not nearly as bad. Maybe try taking him to do something that is just nonsense. Go outside and play in the mud or something. Get silly, Get filthy and make a mess. This will be letting him know that sometimes it is okay to just let down your guard. Then you can clean it all up together to let him know that we can usually fix things that are broken and it's not really that big of a deal. I am sure that something will help him to mature as a responsible AND fun kind of guy. Good luck to you and your little guy, and never forget, the smiles should always be cherished!!

My 5 year-old has emotional episodes, acting depressed sometimes since he was about 3- saying he can't do things, crying a lot, asking if I love him, etc. I am 37, a dedicated mom to 2 boys. You have gotten a lot of good advice. One thing I haven't seen is a suggestion to go to a homeopathic doctor and get a constitutional remedy. I recently did this for my son and after the first dose, I can already see a difference. If you do get some type of diagnosis from a western med. physician, I would take that information to the homeopathic doctor before putting my child on prescription drugs unless it is acute. Otherwise, they have to "undo" those effects first before being able to help your child. Before I got into natural medicine, I had depression and was on drugs. They really messed with my mind and body. I am so glad we have natural alternatives widely available today. Homeopathic meds are very safe. Talk to your homeopathic doctor about them.
btw- your insurance probably won't cover homeopathy, so look around for someone who practices it primarily, not on the side with other natural remedies. I only paid about $60 for my 1-hour visit and it included the remedy. We will have follow-up appoints that will be at least half that. I was referred to the homeopath by my child's pediatrician.
Best wishes,

Hello my name is Gabriela and I have a 6 year old boy who for the most part did the some thing as your boy cried alot for having to do things like clean roon, homework, and eat. He never said that he wanted to die. I am re-marrried. We took my son to a Psychological assessment, consultations and therpy for chidren, adults and families, and the doctor said that he has active defiance. He told my that my son has ADD/ADHD. Mybe you should take your son to go and see a doctor about what you had mention here. Hope that this helps you and good luck and let me know what things are coming along and if you have any promblems let me know and I will try to help you through this as much as I can.

Its sound like emotinal and fisical disposition.
When my boy start to be emotinal I give him B stess vit,
and protein shake twice a day. My son is 8 years old.
He does see a therapist to help with his emotions.
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Hi L.,

I'm going to give you the same response I gave Rachel P below. However, I would also recommend going to a Naturopath and getting his hormone levels checked. If you go to a regular doc, you will only get a "pass/fail" on the hormones. You need to know the actual levels and have a naturopath interpret them for you.

Here is the response I gave Rachel P...

Behavior is two-fold: psychological and physiological. Improving his diet will help physiologically; but you also need to deal with the psychological part. A psychologist will typically deal with issues that the child and/or parent are “aware” of. However, a lot of behavior is stemmed from subconscious thoughts that we are often not even aware of. It is these subconscious thoughts that are so difficult to change.

I recommend going to "Brimhall Wellness Center" and asking for "Michael Sanders". Michael can work with the inner-most thoughts your son has (whether he recognizes them or not) and help make changes at the subconscious level. You can also try doing some energy work (like Reiki) or hypnotherapy. I have some great resources on my web site (www.healthyhabitswellnesscenter.com).

This sounds soooo much like my daughter! She is smart, but cries several times a day. If the teacher says "turn around in your seat" she thinks the teacher is mad and yelled at her! She usually has these outbursts at night where she can't stop crying, usually something minor (to anybody else) and then says she can't tell me because it is "stupid" or if she tells me "she'll be a bad person". She is a bit bossy, but then at school is scared of all the kids. Anyway, the crying and being hard on herself sound a lot alike...the difference is, I am divorced from her father, working 2 jobs and she does not get a lot of social activity outside of school (and school seems to be full of anxiety!)...so, not sure if we are dealing with a phase or not. I will read some of the responses to your post and maybe I'll find something helpful...besides the fact that I need a wonderful husband, hardworking, so I can stay home, give her lots of emotional support and homeschool!! lol

Hi I am a mother of five and a grandmother of three... I work at a childcare center that deals with kids that have problems with social/emotional development... we are the daycare that doesn't "kick out" any problem child...Your son sounds like a very emotional child, but it is probably better that he cries and takes out his emotions on himself rather than on others, as I have seen many children who are rather aggressive toward others. Please do not take his behavior lightly. At this young age, it would probably be very benificial to seek out professional help. There are probably programs through his school that are available, but so many times parents are afraid of seeking help from mental health professionals. Look for an agency that does Play Therapy to find out what has made your child blame himself for his short-falls. I was blessed by children and a family stucture that I always believed that love was all that was needed, but in today's society and with all the poisons in our environment there are many things that can cause our children to have extreme behavior problems. Don't blame yourself or your co-parent. The thing that I have found that works is working on these things one day, one problem at a time. Your child's teachers can only do so much; you need to seek professional help, and your child is young enough to not feel any stigmatism to it that you might feel. Somewhere he has been told that he is bad, but that can be turned around if he is told daily about his positive traits. Good Luck and My Prayers will be with you...MOM

He might be clinically depressed. Take him to your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a child psychiatrist.

Hi L.,
your son sounds like he might be having some challenges with sensory processing. Things might just get overwhelming for him - physically - and then the emotional stuff kicks in.
A child can have balance issues and be extremely active. Going fast is one way of avoiding the balance issues - when going slow, it's harder to balance. Some children are very much affected by noises, touch, smells, etc. And some need to be physical to know where they are in space. All these things can cause the emotional reactions that you see. My daughter went through this big time.
You might want to find the book: "The Out of Sync Child" by Carol Kranowitz, to see if this fits your son.
take care!

See if your school has a counselor or a psychologist. They are really "tuned" into kids and may be able to figure out in a session or 2 what's going on with your son. My son, at 7, became REALLY hard on himself, saying he was ugly and stupid (he's really handsome and acceleraed in school). He would cry sometimes, which was totally unlike him. In 2 sessions, the school counselor gave us exercises to do with him, a notebook to communicate with him, and all sorts of great ideas. We worked through his issues in a few months, and still use the strategies with ALL of our boys. I was amazed at how well it worked. Good luck!

Hi L.--

I'm an advocate of alternative medicine and have some ideas from that perspective. It's apparent that his poor system is out of balance, and it sounds like adrenal fatigue resulting in depression to me. He is over-whelmed by his emotions. I would try a homeopathic, naturopath, and/or acupuncturist to see where the imbalance is. Western medicine will probably want to put him on anti-anxiety drugs which I would guess you don't want to do for a young child. I'm in Colorado so I can't give you names where you are of docs, unfortunately. You might also want to research something called neuro-emotional technique (NET). It's usually done by chiropractors and has great success in clearing emotional imbalances. My whole family has used it, including my three year old (when adjusting to the idea of his new sister). Just some thoughts. If you want more info on alternative stuff I'd be happy to assist.

Good luck!

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