Crying is a response to a natural feeling of unhappiness, sadness, hurtfulness or other feeling of discomfort. Crying is the only natural way that babies can communicate. Children who are between the ages of five and ten years of age who resort to crying are often using this behavior because:

Crying works. “I get what I want when I cry.”

Displaying other appropriate behaviors does not get the child what they want.

Parents often feel sorry for their child when he or she cries and gives in.

The child may be overwhelmed, confused, stressed or frustrated for long periods of time.

The child has not been taught or given positive reinforcement for appropriate non-crying behavior.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents need to model for they child the appropriate responses when not getting his or her own way. Teach your child how to solve problem without crying.

Sit down with your child when he or she is in a “happy” mood and discuss their crying behavior to get what is wanted. Tell the child that this behavior is not acceptable and how you are going to react to it. Set up a play that both parents can agree upon before meeting with the child. Both parent need to be consistent in how they respond to inappropriate crying.

Let your child know that crying is appropriate at times (when one is physically hurt, feelings hurt, a pet or person dies etc.) and not appropriate at times (to get a favorite food, toy, movie etc.).

Remain calm when your child displays inappropriate crying behavior. You want to refrain from getting upset and not in control of your emotions.

Let your child know that there will be negative consequences for using crying as a behavior to get what is wanted. Consequences may include ignoring the behavior, removal from a store or public setting, loss of a privilege etc.

Provide your child with positive consequences for appropriate non-crying behavior. Once your child refrains from crying to get what he or she wants, positively reinforce the behavior with a positive comment/

Add additional responsibilities showing that you trust the child’s improved maturity.

Author's Bio: 

Scott Wardell has a Masters Degree in School Counseling and a Specialist Degree in School Administration. He has twenty-eight years of counseling and educational experience. Scott is a Past President of the Minnesota Association of Middle Level Educators. Scott has presented at numerous parenting workshops, educational in-services and has been a keynote speaker on topics involving Child Development, School Bullies and Parenting. He’s the creator, author and editor of; a Website devoted to assisting parents with informational articles and online counseling services.

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