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

Preschoolers and 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.

“When parents strive to accept and listen to their children’s strong emotions, children will know that they can come to their parents with their problems and that they will be loved no matter how sad, frightened or angry they feel.” Dr. Aletha Solter

If your child cries a lot more with you than she does with other people, she might have found that crying gets your attention. Try to focus on showing your child positive attention when she’s not crying. This might help to reduce her tears when you’re together.

Ways to manage crying

Start by making sure your child isn’t sick or hurt. If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to contact a public health nurse or your doctor.

If your child is physically OK, the following tips might help:

  • Try to work out why your child is crying. If he’s tired, some quiet time or a rest might help. If your child’s angry, put him somewhere safe to calm down. If he’s frustrated, try to work out a solution together.
  • A distraction or a change of scenery can help. Try taking your child outside for a walk, giving her a bubble bath, or even putting on some kids’ music and dancing around.
  • Try to avoid giving in to a crying child who wants something you don’t want him to have. This tends to lead to even more crying next time. Make sure your child understands that sometimes it’s OK to cry like when something sad happens or when he gets hurt. For example, "Ouch. I’d cry too if I hit my head".
  • Acknowledge and reflect your child’s feelings. For example, “You’re really sad about that.”

If you feel overwhelmed

Never shake, hit or hurt a crying child. When children cry, they’re doing it for a reason. It will pass. If you’re worried that you might hurt your child because of his crying, put your child somewhere safe and take a five-minute break. Letting your child cry for a few minutes won’t hurt him, 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.

Tip: 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.

Crying in front of your children

Your child learns about when and how to express emotions like sadness, anger and happiness by watching you. Seeing your emotions also teaches your child that mom and dad are people with feelings too.

But if you’re crying a lot, or crying without knowing why, you might need to seek some help from your doctor.

© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Crying: Overtired or Overstimulated 
Aware Parenting Institute 



Last Updated: November 30, 2014