kids crying for no reason

Are My Kids Crying for No Reason?

When my son was six, he played on a soccer team for the first time. They were a good team and seemed to win game after game. During the last game of the year, they started to lose. My son started crying which was not a surprise to me and ran off the field into my chest. I was able to calm him down enough to go back out there; but, the rest of the game, he was a mess.

After the game was over, his coach, a sweet and well-intentioned woman, told me that I shouldn’t let him be so hard on himself. I told her I would work on it, but really it had nothing to do with that at all. It wasn’t that he felt like he failed or didn’t play well. The reason he was crying was a combination of frustration and hurt from losing. Those emotions combined with a level of sensitivity equals a blowout.

Kids cry for a variety of reasons. Are there ever kids crying for no reason?
Probably not, but sometimes it is over the smallest things which can be confusing for a parent to address. If your kid cries all of the time, it is helpful to know what is going on below the surface. Here are several common reasons kids cry and how to address it:

Tired

This is probably the most common. When my kids lose it, I normally see a yawn in the midst or right after. I know that when I am tired I tend to react to things more emotionally and make worse decisions, but somehow I expect my kids to act differently. Kids get tired quicker when they do not have a routine. Try to keep regular bedtimes. When dinner ends, start preparing them for good sleep. Limit the things after dinner that stimulate them, such as sugar intake and screen time (TV, computer, iPad, video games).

Attention

This is the second reason I evaluate. If kids aren’t getting enough attention from their parents, they will tend to act out to get what they are missing. It’s not always good to immediately respond to tears or they may start using it as a means to get attention. However, it is a reminder for me to be more proactive in making time for them or being more present and focused on them when I’m home. Work at having some one-on-one time each day to talk. Even if it is just 15 minutes that makes a difference in them feeling individually cared for.

A Flood of Emotion

Developmentally kids aren’t able to think abstractly until sometime in high school. At times, they will get a flood of emotion without being able to communicate or even know why. Kids need to know that there is nothing wrong with their emotions and sensitivity. [Tweet This] Those are good things. They enable us to connect, grow our love and have empathy for others. They don’t need to cut off those emotions or become less sensitive. What they need are techniques to manage their emotions because there are people, particularly other kids, who are unsafe to be vulnerable with. Work with them on ways they can calm themselves down.

Lack of Control

You are making them do something they don’t want to do. Whether it is cleaning their room or running errands, the tears come probably with a tantrum. Overcoming their willful opposition is critical in these moments. They need to know that they are not in charge—and for good reason.

Anxiety and Fear

This can be a deep-seated issue. Perhaps a traumatic experience where the emotions are easily triggered. They may feel a lack of security if there have been foundational changes in their life like a divorce or moving to a new town. If crying occurs often from anxiety and fear, I would advise seeing a counselor.

Sound Off

What are some other possible reasons for kids frequent crying?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Jason Miller

    Hi BJ, great article! You hit a bullseye with me. I always enjoy the APD links – when I get a chance to slow down and read them..

    I would love some recommendations or further discussion on your thought “What they need are techniques to manage their emotions”. What credible sources do you recommend to assist with this? Our family tries a code word “K.I.T.” (for keep it together) when my daughter starts to let her feelings spiral. Often, this isn’t enough. I have told her (and myself) that we need to find ways to practice reigning it in when the emotional stampede is just starting before it rages out of control. The challenge is knowing these “techniques”.

    Thanks again!

    • BJ_Foster

      Thanks Jason! Appreciate your subscription to the Play of the Day and your feedback. I think every child is different and need techniques that will be effective for him or her. A couple of things that have worked in our house have been talking with him about the factors that make him more susceptible to an emotional breakdown: tired being the most common. When he knows he’s tired he is more on his guard. Now he knows to do a self assessment and can recognize when he’s tired.

      Second, I have talked to him about the fact that I am an emotional person and used to react the same way and have given him the techniques I have used in the past: Focusing on playing hard, enjoying the competition, and being a good sportsman rather than making winning the goal. So the technique would be focusing our thoughts on positive things rather than negative. It could also be focusing on the needs of others rather than our own. So when my son is getting upset about losing I have talked to him about encouraging his teammates. It is about changing the mental focus. I also talked to him about breathing slowly to help himself calm down. After I gave him some ideas I asked him what normally calms him down. He said counting. So I told him to try it. Looks like you have brainstormed with your daughter in the same way. I think that is the best way to find things that work.

      Then we have identified situations that tend to bring him to tears and prepared him before hand. For example, before a soccer or basketball game we talk to him about the fact that he might lose and get him thinking before the game about the right way to react to it. It help train him on how to think ahead.

      Those are a couple of thoughts. It’s great that you are engaging your kids with these types of conversations. Teaching them self discipline and emotional management now will pay dividends when they enter puberty. These conversations lay the groundwork for talking about controlling sexual desires in the future. But I’m sure you don’t want to even think about that yet. Hope this is helpful. Thanks again!

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