How to help a 5yr old who cries easily?

(35 Posts)
SillyReceptionMum Tue 12-Feb-13 21:19:20

Ok, so we went to Parents' evening at school last week. Everything is fine, DS doing very well and the teacher was really pleased (he's in Reception).

But his teacher did say that it is beginning to be noticeable that DS cries very easily, particularly at playtime. It seems to be when he's tagged, or 'out', or if the others don't want to play the same game as him and his default response is to cry. He works himself into a bit of a state and then 5 mins later he's back playing and it's forgotten.

We do notice at home that he's quite sensitive and emotional but we thought it was getting better. He is a bit of a perfectionist, likes to get things right and also likes to know what's going to happen next. When things don't go according to the plan that he's mapped out in his head he cries.

I just don't want him to be seen as a cry-baby at school and he seems so little to be told to 'man up'. We do talk about feelings and emotions but I don't want to make it a bigger issue.

School now seem to think it's a problem and have introduced a sticker chart for him - he gets a smiley face after playtime if he hasn't been upset and a sad face if he has. I'm worried that his enjoyment of school is going to be marred by what I feel is something that he will naturally grow out of as he matures and deals with his emotions better.

Has anyone ever dealt with something similar and could share their strategies? I feel he needs something practical that helps him to cope with his feelings of frustration or being cross with resorting to tears.

Shakey1500 Tue 12-Feb-13 21:22:36

DS used to be a bit like this. We "solved" it by playing loads of board games etc at home where sometimes he won and sometimes he lost. When he DID lose we were very blasé about it in a "never mind, you win some you lose some" way, then moving on quickly. When we lost we'd shrug and say "ah well, maybe next time" Eventually he got used to it smile

Shakey1500 Tue 12-Feb-13 21:24:49

Should add that there was a fair few tears at first that we had to ignore!

SillyReceptionMum Tue 12-Feb-13 21:28:07

Thanks Shakey, we have got out of the habit of playing games (used to do a lot) but that's a good idea for half term.

I think I feel that he is the only one who isn't 'tough' and tbh I cry easily as well which probably doesn't help.

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 08:12:29

He cries because he has learned at home that people give in to him.However the other children won't.This could go 2 ways.Either he'll give it up or he'll escalate it and tell the teacher that the children are being mean to him.

DS2 is in YR2 and is still a bit like this now - he is getting better though.

We have given him lots of tools to use when he gets upset - counting to 10 in his head, taking some deep breaths, things like that.

We have always played board games and taken turns - we have 2 other children so he has had to - and been matter of fact about losing, or not being asked to take part in something, but I think it's just part of his make up. He also has a strong sense of justice, and when he thinks something is not right he gets very upset, very quickly.

He calms down quickly, and moves on as if nothing happened within a few minutes, so at least it doesn't go on for ever!

The teacher has been lovely with him and the episodes are getting fewer at school - she is very experienced and says he will grow out of it, which does seem to be the case, even if it is slow progress.

I find it very hard to watch and deal with, so you have my sympathies.

jalapeno Wed 13-Feb-13 09:28:56

My DS1 used to be like this, he used to get terribly upset at sad songs too, for example the end song on "In the Night Garden" with the boat...floods of tears. He also used to cry when told off or if he lost something etc.

I don't know when or how it got better but it did probably at about 6. He still can be a bit emotional when tired.

Actually is your DS getting enough sleep do you think?

Daisy17 Wed 13-Feb-13 09:48:03

I'm 37 and I still cry when I'm tired or confused or thwarted. It's my way off letting out the tension. In the past I've tried to stop it. But I must say I now feel like it's the natural way for me to cope with being me. Training him to bottle it up or think of it as a problem or weakness might not be a kindness in the long term, though I do understand about not wanting him to be teased. Maybe saying to him that it's an acceptable way to release tension might mean he can learn to let the tears roll for a short time but not let it get out of hand and then pick himself up and carry on. Just a thought.

Daisy17 Wed 13-Feb-13 09:52:24

I must also take issue with socharlotte who seems to be implying that the tears are learned behaviour to get what he wants. Not all tears are manipulative. Some people's emotions are just a lot nearer the surface than others.

SillyReceptionMum Wed 13-Feb-13 09:59:21

Thank you for your replies, I really appreciate it and it's so reassuring to know that it's not just DS.

Jalopeno I do think he gets plenty of sleep - he sleeps 7-7 most nights including weekends because he does need his sleep. Saying that it's nearly half-term and I suspect that a break next week will do him the world of good.

Daisy I'm like that too, I cry easily and I think it's just part of being me. I think that's where I'm a little torn - yes, it's a good thing for DS to learn to manage his emotions better and not cry at everything but equally I'm not sure that bottling it up works either.

Daisy17 Wed 13-Feb-13 10:12:16

I think my breakthrough was realising it was a release mechanism, treating it like a thing my body did to help me. I can almost disassociate myself from it now, and rather than guilty feelings of being weak or pathetic making it all turn into a massive crying storm, I can let it pass much more quickly. Rather than fighting it, if you see what I mean. Let him know tears are a normal bodily reaction and that once they're out he can let go of the emotion inside himself. Mind you, sounds like he's getting the hang of that himself if it only lasts five minutes. Maybe it's the teachers that need telling - and before anyone flames me, I am a teacher myself..... grin

Daisy17 Wed 13-Feb-13 10:13:41

It does upset me that being sensitive and emotional is seen as something you need to get better from....

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 10:19:35

But if the OPs Dc wants to play with other children, then he has to learn the social norms ie not to start blubbing when you lose at a game.

Daisy17 Wed 13-Feb-13 10:23:34

He's in Reception. He's still a tiny child. He's already managing to sort himself out after five minutes and plunge back into the fray. I'd say he's doing pretty well. And shudder to "social norms".

jalapeno Wed 13-Feb-13 13:56:34

Bugger "social norms" socharlotte why don't you concentrate on telling your DCs not to pick on other children that don't "conform"?

rrf Wed 13-Feb-13 15:52:05

My daughter was exactly the same. I had such problems, but I introduced a 'cryi

rrf Wed 13-Feb-13 15:58:29

Whoops, sorry

We introduced a crying book. Basically I told DD that it was in her bag, and if the teacher thought she was crying for no good reason, she would write in it. Tears magically stopped. DD thought twice before crying over trivial stuff, and has gone from strength to strength within her friendships. It helped that the teacher was on board and wanted to sort the situation in a firm but fair way. Really helped us sort out real tears from avoidable ones. The book was never written in.

rrf Wed 13-Feb-13 16:01:09

I have to add that my DD cried over ALOT of things. It got to be a bit distracting within the class.

pod3030 Wed 13-Feb-13 16:04:22

i agree with daisy, it's sad that being sensitive and in touch with your emotions is seen as negative. i'm like this too, and struggled a long time thinking there was something wrong with me. this book helped-
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highly_sensitive_person
there's one on bringing up a sensitive child too. it takes all sorts to make a world and it's a sad lesson that a child should learn 'the norms'. celebrate difference, it would be a boring place were we all the same sheep-people.

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 16:06:27

Bugger "social norms" socharlotte

..in an ideal world, but we don't live in an ideal world and most of us want our children to fit in and have children to play with.
The reality is it isn't much fun to play with a crybaby who takes his bat home everytime things aren't going his way.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Wed 13-Feb-13 16:06:28

I don't see why it's such a big deal, he will grow out of it, but yes playing more games at home would help. 5 is quite young.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Wed 13-Feb-13 16:07:36

Socharlotte your world sounds very narrow and not very kind IMO

LucyLight Wed 13-Feb-13 16:18:30

Both mine have been described as sensitive (they are both perfectionist too - as am I). One is now 10 and finds it easier now and the 6 year old is starting to be able to manage it better. I can remember having conversations with school that started with ....she is very sensitive.... in a slighlty that's not so good way. I used to counted with - yes and that means she is also good at picking up on other peoples feeling and is sympathetic and kind. Any behaviour has an up side and downside. There are great advantages to being sensitive (and a perfectionist) - you just need to help him understand how to manage the downsides and that will come with time. BTW - the board game idea sounds great - we play cards with ours....

TheSecondComing Wed 13-Feb-13 16:21:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BarbarianMum Wed 13-Feb-13 20:49:01

I think the OP would be wise to gently find ways to help her son learn to control the tears, esp when due to not winning, or not getting his own way.

He is still very young, and many reception children to end up in tears over little things but by Y1/Y2 this type of behavior does not help you get on with your peers. It is very hard work to be friends with someone who cries all the time, and there is a constant risk of being told off/or told to be nicer/or told to let little X have his way and tbh most kids will just slowly disengage and choose to play with other children that are easier to get on with.

Although, having said this, the tears themselves are less of a problem than the behavior that can accompany them - withdrawing, complaining, stropping or unjustifiable telling.

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 21:21:35

'Socharlotte your world sounds very narrow and not very kind IMO

they are not meant to be unkind

lisad123everybodydancenow Wed 13-Feb-13 21:28:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

redlac Wed 13-Feb-13 21:38:11

My dd is like this ans she is nearly 7. She is sensitive and quick to cry - it's shit for us, for her, for her classmates - we know this however we have tried lots of strategies and nothing seems to work. She is know as a cry baby and she now gets no sympathy from her peers even when someone shoves her face into a roughcast wall

She does not however cry when she loses at a game but at things like not being picked to readout in class, at people not being fair, at people being mean to others

This has been blamed on her being an only or a Pisces or learned behaviour and I'm at the end of my tether. My catchphrase for nearly 7 years has been "crying doesn't change mummy's mind"

Watching with interest

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 21:45:41

Lucylight In my experience being sensitive with your own feelings, does not necessarily mean they have sensitivity to others.Your kids might.But IME there is no correlation.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 13-Feb-13 22:04:41

Socharlotte, have you been manipulated by a crybaby?

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 22:20:48

I don't know.I am over 40 and can't remember that far back.But I work with literally hundreds of children a week and have come across lots of them. habitual criers have often cottoned on to the potentail for attention seeking and/or manuipulation.Again only speaking from my experience.I don't know the OPs DS so can't comment

rrf Wed 13-Feb-13 22:32:30

Socharlottet, as unconftable as it makes me feel, taking into consideration my own child, I think you are right in a way. Sometimes, children do get stuck in a rut of using tears to express/manipulate/whatever when things are not going their way.

TheSecondComing Thu 14-Feb-13 00:11:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jalapeno Thu 14-Feb-13 07:30:04

There is a middle ground but not all children are on it. Some children may be manipulating others with crying but I'd rather that than with friendship or love (you do this/be like this and I'll be your friend).

Children manipulate to get what they want from the first days of infancy (looking cute and crying for milk!) and, like everything else, they need to learn to lose this. Being forced to "toughen up" is not the answer imo as the tears will be quite genuine in a lot of cases.

DeWe Thu 14-Feb-13 10:55:21

From my observation of dd2 who tears up easily, peers give way to one in tears, but like them less for it. They give way to stop the tears, avoid getting into trouble, but resent having to do so.

I've found with dd2 encouraging her to be more empathetic to others helps. So she doesn't cry because she's lost because she's pleased for her friend that won. She doesn't cry because she hasn't got what she's wanted because X and Y also didn't get it. Seeing that she wasn't singled out for something she didn't want has helped considerably, and thinking about how others feel helps her not to focus on how bad she feels.

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