Is My Child Crying Too Often?

A mom was concerned about her fifth grader's habit of crying. She recently posted on a message board that her son cries on a daily basis, "at the drop of a hat." He cries when he is tired or frustrated by schoolwork, if his sister hits or hurts him, or when his soccer team loses. Although she saw her son as happy and well adjusted in most respects, this mom was troubled that he had not outgrown crying.

Another parent replied to this 'crying' post in an encouraging way, saying that sensitivity is a positive quality. She was upset that boys too often are told they shouldn't show their emotions. I agree that crying is normal and that our culture is too hard on boys. Emotional sensitivity is a wonderful characteristic. We need more of it in boys and men. Babies cry to communicate basic needs. Adults cry at times. Boys should have permission to cry as well.

But the question remains: Can there be too much crying? Should we be concerned at some point when school-aged children cry? I think yes. Although children and adults cry, at times we choose to repress our tears because different responses are more appropriate and effective. For example, I could see why this mom would want to discourage daily crying in her fifth grader. If her son is tired, it would be better for him to rest than cry. If he cries when frustrated, then he probably needs to learn an important coping skill -- how to endure frustration. Her son also likely needs to study more positive ways to respond to a soccer defeat or to a sister who hits him.

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