Help! 6 Year Old Cries When ANYTHING Does Not Go His Way

Updated on June 21, 2011
J.M. asks from Arlington, TX
16 answers

Hi Ladies! I need help. My 6 year old ds cries at the drop of the hat. If his sock is bothering him; he cries. If his brother has the book he wants; he cries. He can't go to a friend's house to play today because he got sick; he cries. I could go on and on. I have never given in to tantrums or crying, but it is really wearing on me. I honestly don't know the best way to handle it. He is so expressive, or dramatic as some would say, that I don't want to dampen his spirit but the crying is driving me crazy. It's like he doesn't know how to cope with adversity or any change and I have tried everything to help. I am hoping that some of you ladies will have some new suggestions that I can try. He is the oldest of three boys and just finished kindergarten with flying colors. He does great at school and is very well behaved both at home and school.

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answers from Honolulu on

Teach him how to use his words... and how to communicate.
You may even have to tell him the words he can use.

Does he know his feelings and the words for it?
If not, you need to teach him that.
And role-play and practice with him.

This also has to do with "coping-skills" which some children do not have. It is taught. Some adults don't even have coping-skills.
It is taught. And practiced.

Teach him to say things such as "I am frustrated because...." , "I am sad because...." and then WITH him, help him find other ways of reacting.
It is practiced. It is not an inherent skill in kids.

My son is 4.. and he will actually tell me "I'm frustrated....because...."
Because I practice with him and taught him about feelings and the words for it. Once I told him when he was in a grumpy mood "Are you irritated?" and he said "No, I'm frustrated..." he knows the difference between him being 'frustrated' or "grumpy' or "irritated." And he will say it. Instead of whining.

Children also have to be taught... that there are MANY different ways, of problem solving and reacting. Practice it. They don't know that automatically. It is a learned skill. Over time.

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answers from Providence on

If my son starts with the crying , I tell him that until he can talk to me , I will be in my room. I let him cry it out, and usually once I walk in my room he stops. He then comes in and says he is done crying. I then will talk to him about whatever he was bothered about.

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answers from Chicago on

Try to give him some words to go along with his emotions. Think of his crying as his way of communicating his sadness. Always remember to ackowledge the reason for his "sadness." You can say something like, " I can see that you are disappointed that you got sick and can't go to your friend's house. You must be frustrated." Once you get in the habit of always recognizing his loss then he will eventually talk to you about it instead of always crying. Yes, it is extremely exhausting and takes a lot of patience. Hang in there!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

This sounds like my son, and oh man it can get exasperating! Especially because my husband has been gone for four months (2 more to go) and I also have an almost three year old girl, I feel like there is always someone crying and I never get a break! When I step back and really look at the big picture I realize my kids are actually mostly happy, very well behaved, and so loving toward me and each other.
BUT, oh the crying! Makes me want to scream sometimes. I try to help my son through things with hugs, or logical explanations, and just letting him cry as long as he needs to - it seems like the more I try to calm him the more he goes on and on. When I'm having a day when I just can't be patient with him, I lead him to his room and have him sit or lay down on his bed. I make sure to muster up every bit of patience for that moment and make sure he knows that he is NOT in trouble, I am NOT angry with him, but I think being on his bed where it is soft and comfortable and he has his animals and blankets is the best place for him to cry and have as much time as he needs to feel sad. I tell him to please come out when he's feeling up to it, and when he does, I give him a big hug and lots of snuggles.
It's ok to not be able to always listen to the crying, every mom has their moments of needing a break, but you simply can't force a child to stop crying. So give him a space where he can do it, without you having to listen to it full force and driving yourself crazy trying to be ultra patient all the time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have some reading suggestions for you, both having to do with how you communicate with your son, and I'll bet both of them will help in different ways.

First, many contemporary parents are totally into praising their kids for being smart, good-looking, athletic, or otherwise focusing on whatever their particular gifts are. We began noticing that with my grandson, this seemed to be demotivating rather than motivating. Then this amazing article came along, and the mystery was cleared up: How NOT to Talk to Kids, by Po Bronson: This article is part of a larger book, Nurture Shock, that is one of the most eye-opening books I've ever read.

Second, kids are usually able to recognize the nature of their problems and find appropriate and creative solutions themselves, if given a little coaching. Your son can't have/do the thing he wants, this minute? Ow, that's a problem, isn't it? Find out how to help him bring out his own best instincts and alternatives in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish. This is perhaps the single most useful parenting book I've ever read – I apply their tools and techniques every time I spend a day with my grandson (now 5.5 years). Simply fabulous!

One other thing I'd like to mention that seems to be increasingly a problem for modern children is environmental toxicity, which includes the modern chemicals and perfumes in household cleaners. Many of the ingredients have been invented in only the past few decades, and human bodies have not evolved to handle such a toxic load. Many chemicals (dryer sheets are especially bad) are nervous system irritants and can cause mood changes, confusion, sleepiness or lack of sleep, and other disturbances that affect the child's quality of life. I learned 25 years ago how strongly I was reacting to multiple modern chemicals, and ever since have found that baking soda, white vinegar, and unscented detergents leave me feeling much better. Might be worth checking out.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter is super sensitive and will do this. Honestly, I remember back to being her age and i was much the same way. It was horrible because once I started crying, I couldn't really stop myself, and if someone ordered me to stop it just made it worse. I try to remain patient with her and tell me that I will be happy to discuss the issue with her when she stops. It gets much worse when she is hungry or tired, so make sure when he has these issues that he is getting enough rest and enough to eat. When she calms down, I will try to tell her that I know she is upset but she needs to try to put her feelings into words. My husband is much less patient and will tell her that she will get teased if she keeps it up (from experience-very true, but doesn't really help in that moment). You can also teach him some other things he can do when he is upset to express himself, like drawing, writing (I get a lot of notes), deep breathing to calm himself down.

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answers from Springfield on

I agree with SH and Mom F. It can be very helpful to get down on his level, look him in the eye and talk to him. "I know you're very sad that we can't go swimming today. It's hard when there's something you really want to do and you can't do it. That's hard. Can you think of something else that we could do?"

Some days I really stink at it, which I think just goes to show that there are going to be some days that our kids are going to have trouble staying calm. Just keep trying to help him name his emotions and empathise with him. He needs to know what he's feeling and that it's ok to feel that way.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Let him cry in his room on his bed without any attention from you, door closed. No talking to him, hugging or trying to distract him, if he needs to cry he needs to, on his own. Don't say it's a time-out, it's not. It's his "Alone Crying Time."

When he's finished he can come out and engage and talk with the rest of the family, but if he starts crying again, back to the room for alone crying time. He should soon realize that he's not getting attention and missing out on things by crying, which he really needs to do as it won't be tolerated anywhere else outside your home. If he's not doing it at school I suspect he is getting something out of doing it at home.

Be consistent, and let him know you love him. Also consider getting him into an outlet of some sort where he can express his dramatic flair appropriately. Our local community college offers "Kid College" and one of the classes offered for children as young as 5 years involves acting out short stories : )

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would not give him ANY attention when he cries. Let him cry. He will soon realize no one will listen or respond to him when he is crying. When he starts, tell him that when he is done, then you can come talk.

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answers from Lubbock on

Dr. Dobson had a suggestion for children who whine. He said that there was something wrong with his ears and he could not hear him when he whined. I tried it on my son, and then said "what" and "excuse me." My son "got it" in about 30 seconds and spoke to me clearly and rationally.

I would think that the same might work for crying. In my opinion, do let him express his emotions, but in an acceptable way. Validate them and help him for words for them.



answers from Atlanta on

I have a 4.5 year old girl who sounds similar. SUPER smart but along with that, she is also very emotional. Her teacher at the end of this academic year gave all the kids in the class a certificate; her's was "The Most Dramatic Award". She has always been emotional, even from birth.

We have had success with this:

I made a homemade goals chart where I listed 5 - 7 goals each day. Things like a) help clean up, b) eat all your dinner, c) be sweet to your sister, d) no whining, crying or pouting, etc.

I put a happy face on the paper if she did well in an area and a crying, sad face if she didn't. The goal was to have enough happy faces at the end of the day to get a special treat like TV time or a piece of candy.

This gave her something to shoot for each day. Also, I would ask her teachers how she behaved during the day so that she knew it was not just about how she acts with us at home. We care about her behavior when she is away from us as well.



answers from Dallas on

Maybe research Sensory Processing Disorder. My son was diagnosed with this, and now has play therapy that has really helped his emotional symptoms.



answers from Dallas on

My daughter is also very "expressive". I've finally settled on the "validate feelings but require her to control herself" approach. Example: her neighbor friend isn't at home to play so she cries vehemently. I let her know that I understand she's very dissapointed and has strong feelings but I'd like her to gain some self control. So I have her go to her room for some alone time until she has control and then when she comes out we talk if she wants. Sometimes she gets mad at me, stomps her way to her room and throws a full out tantrum in there. Sometimes she's in there barely 10 seconds before she's ready to come out. The amount of time depends on her. The point is, I'm not expending my energy trying to make her "feel better" she's expending her energy dealing w/ her own emotions. I always stop and listen when she's ready to talk like a big girl. But self-control is also that...SELF-control. I can't make her stop crying. I can just give her some boundaries and limit the distress it causes me. There are days when her 'alone' times in her room reaches double digits - these tend to be when she's tired. There are other days when I see her really working to have self control before needing alone time. I always praise her efforts. This may sound harsh but I'm pretty certain we, as moms, tend to get lost in the 'carer' role and sometimes forget about the 'preparer' role. We also tend to exhaust ourselves in the 'carer' role. I was lost in it until learning about Love and Logic. It honestly has helped me become so much more balanced as a parent. And I'm having a lot more fun too!


answers from Williamsport on

Discipline the crying firmly. He will control it. It is not squashing his feelings. He can still be legitimately mad and sad etc when warranted, but you need to get a handle on the crying habit. Not giving in is not ENOUGH. It is a lack of consequence. It's basically ignoring, which is totally not effective in most kids. Do not give in, but ALSO be sure he has a firm consequence for crying once you have assessed there is no valid reason for it and calmly given him a warning. Soon he'll just need a warning and you'll have a much happier child. At his age, this is deeply ingrained, and he may get worse at first in an effort not to let you take control. The book Back to Basics Discipline is GREAT for specifically his age on how to be loving and firm. None of my kids do this, but they all tried it.



answers from Tyler on

I have a grandson that's the same way. Little by little my daughter has taught him that crying isn't communication. He's also worse when he's very tired. He's 10 yrs old now and does much better. Some kids are just so sensitive and that's how they express it. You have to teach him that the world doesn't like or put up with cry babies.


answers from New York on

Is this just behavior he saves for Mommy? Did he cry like that at school? does he cry like that for Dad, Grandmom or other people he spends time with? Does he have normal verbal skills for a child his age or does he have a speech delay of some sort that keeps him from verbalizing his feelings?
I would look for some books where the characters deal with adversity and compliment that behavior and compliment it in his siblings. Do read the article Peg suggested

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