Preschoolers and school-age children: crying

Children tend to cry less as they get older. Once they can talk, it’s much easier for them to tell you why they’re upset and what they need.

Preschoolers also start to understand about right and wrong times to cry. You can help by teaching your child different ways to deal with her feelings. Talking about what’s upset her can be a good place to start.

It’s OK to cry sometimes. For both children and grown-ups, crying can be a healthy way to deal with a significant loss, pain or sadness. When your child expresses these feelings to you, try to listen, comfort and reassure him that his feelings are OK.

How to manage your preschooler’s or school-age child’s crying
Make sure that your child isn’t sick or hurt. If your child is physically OK, try the following ideas:

  • Give your child a chance to calm down, then ask her what’s made her so upset. Show you’re listening by repeating her feelings back to her. For example, ‘You’re feeling sad because Sam wouldn’t play with you’.
  • Offer your child some other ways to deal with the situation. For example, ‘How about you ask to join in Biodin’s game instead?’
  • Make sure your child understands that sometimes it’s OK to cry – for example, when something sad happens or when he gets hurt. For example, ‘Ouch, I’d be crying too if I hit my head’.

If your child seems to spend a lot of time crying and acting sad, consider asking your GP for advice.

Never shake, hit or hurt a crying child.

If you need to, put your child somewhere safe and take a five-minute break. Letting your child cry for a few minutes won’t hurt her, and it can help you get things under control.

Sometimes it helps to have another person take over for a while. If you can, ask your partner to come home, or get a friend or relative to come over and help out.

Parenting can be really hard work, especially if you have a child who cries a lot. Taking time out and asking for help are positive things you can do for yourself and your child.
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