Help: When kids cry

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by Bored of Ed, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I never know what to do when the tears come.
    When I see them coming, I can try some preventive measures, but once they start crying I feel like all is lost.

    For example...
    I have one little basket case, an adorable girl, very sweet, works extremely hard to do well in school and generally succeeds. When she doesn't she cries incessantly. I'm talking about things like daily math drills -- they're short, given every day, so it's not supposed to be a big deal. If a kid doesn't do well on one, we tell them not to worry about it at all as long as we can see they're studying consistently. This one -- she gets straight 10/10s for about a week, then one day she can't keep up with the pace and gets mixed up -- she slowly crumples up and eventually works herself into such a fuss, crying straight through recess and sometimes even longer. Nothing I say helps. Time after time we've told her how proud we are that she's doing well, that one quiz doesn't matter, that losing the pace happens to everyone and she still knows the math, etc. Nothing seems to make her calm down.

    Case two:
    A kid misbehaves, talking out of turn and being rude to the teacher. She is warned once, twice, and again. On the last chance, she blows it and is punished. Bawls like crazy. Fine, she deserved it. But after a while, come on! Get used to it -- you made your choice, now here's your consequence!

    Case three:
    "She said she won't be my friend. They're always picking on me. She ruined my paper. I never got a turn." So I have plenty of responses for those. But when the kid starts crying inconsolably, Miss Bored feels helpless and wants to cry, too.

    Just a few examples... but really, any tears get me kind of unglued. At that point, I feel like nothing I say will penetrate anyway; they're too busy crying. But I've seen people comfort the crying kid, I've seen teachers pull the kid aside for a short exchange after which the kid sniffles off to dry her face. What is the magic formula?!
     
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  3. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jun 7, 2007

    It depends on the personality of the child and the relationship you have with them. At least for me. I'm not sure I can offer you any suggestions. I usually follow my instinct in the situation once I know the kids and pretty much that works. Not every kid gets the same reaction from me to the same situation.
     
  4. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jun 7, 2007

    By the time they get to me (5th) it is usually pretty easy to spot the fakers. I always tell them that I am the queen of faucet tears and that until they can do it better than me, it doesn't get to me. Then I send them to wash their face and get back to work. In other cases, I usually pull them to the hall to avoid some of the embarrassment and try and solve the problem. I had one child who cried over everything. Being nice to her only seemed to make it worse so I tried some tough love. Not mean, just matter of fact. It seemed to work a lot better.
     
  5. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I should have added, this year I had A. He is a tiny little red headed boy who cries at the drop of a hat. I would be going over a paper with him and he would cry. He would make a mistake on DOL and cry. After talking to his mom about it (they leave us and go to the Jr High) I would lean in close to him and say "Suck it up, this isn't worth crying over!!" and walk away. It was rather rough on him, but it worked. He went from crying 3 or 4 times a day to not crying at all. I asked him about it at the end of school. He looked shocked for a minute, like hadn't realized it, then smiled and said, "Wow! I haven't cried in a long time at home either!"
     
  6. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jun 7, 2007

    When kids are crying for attention or escape reasons, I usually say something like "I understand that you are upset, and that is okay. When you are back in control of yourself, you may _____________." I stop giving attention to the problem and usually my other students will ignore the behavior as well. Occasionally, if the kid is being obstinate, I may ask "Is there something I can do that would help you in this situation?" but usually they give a smarmy response and I say calmly "I'm sorry, but that is not a choice right now" and then repeat the 'in control' spiel.
     
  7. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Jun 7, 2007

    Those situations like case 2 that you gave, I have no sympathy for them, so I just let them cry. If they've been warned and are then crying because they got in trouble, I feel like maybe they'll learn something from it. In other cases, after a few consoling words, I send them to the bathroom to wash their face. There's no one to see the crying, so it is less embarassing for them, and it helps them calm down quicker.
     
  8. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I do the same as Steph-ernie. Sometimes I send them to the water fountain in the hallway to get a drink of water (we have a fountain in the classroom) because they usually don't want people outside of the classroom to see them crying.

    If they are bawling for the attention or for something silly I make them sit on our crying chair and give them a few minutes and then tell them that I heard enough and so has everyone else. I tell them that I know that they have the self-control to stop and then I give them to the count of 10 to stop crying. They are then asked to wash their face and/or get a drink of water and continue rejoin the class.

    If they are just crying but are not being disruptive to get some attention or for something silly, I tell them that I am sorry that they are sad but they need to stop and get "busy" and then them know of the consequence for not finishing their job and then I just ignore them.
     
  9. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I became much softer after I had a child of my own. Now, I treat children as I would want my son to be treated. Whether or not the child is a faker, there is something at the root of the crying that needs to be addressed. I would try and see what I could do for that- something I need to talk to the parents about? If it's a child that needs some extra attention that day - I sympathize and nurture. It really does depend on what the situation is. For others, I have a rocking chair and a stuffed animal that I offer for comfort if they'd like.
     
  10. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Jun 7, 2007

    For the child in the case with the multiplication I might pull him/her aside and just talk about how this is not the most important thing in the world. If it happened all the time I'd talk with the school counslor about working with the child on stress management techniques and how to calm themselves. Could also be there is something going on at home.

    For the kid who can't handle consequences I'd tell them to sit in the hall until the behavior changes. The child is welcome to return when the unwelcome behavior is fixed. I have no sympathy for these kids. Again, if it happened too often or if the child becomes threatening or extremely disruptive I'd get in touch with the parents and school counselor.

    For the third (and this is a fifth grade solution) I would try to help the child talk through what happened and why the other person doesn't want to be friends. Every situation is different. I had a child one year who was grieving her father's death and just wanted to be alone sometimes. Her best friend always wanted to help and sometimes pushed until the other girl lashed out. I just tried to explain that she didn't want to break the friendship, it wasn't personal, she just needed some alone time. This wasn't the perfect fix, but it helped her understand her friend's moodiness.
     
  11. grade1teacher

    grade1teacher Companion

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I agree with this - to a certain extent.
    Yes, the crying is coming from somewhere, whether they need attention, or are truly upset, however even in first grade I can see that if they consistently get the attention they wanted by crying, I am basically saying that whenever they need a little TLC they should just turn on the waterworks. Its my job to care about them and help them solve problems but I also have a job to help them mature emotionally.
    Instead of stopping my class everytime, (for things I KNOW are not serious) I wait until the student raises their hand, I ask them if they want to get a drink wash their face etc. and they come and join us soon after. (Luckily they are pretty quiet criers.) Sometimes they want me to stop everything and deal with an issue that can truly wait. I tell them that I'll be happy to discuss it by recess, but now is not an appropriate time. They know that I care about them. But I need to help them grow up. People will get very impatient with them if we don't help them grow up!

    And yes, a little nurturing goes a long way, reading a student a book during recess, asking about things that are exciting going on at home. They get the message that we care.
     
  12. Sagette

    Sagette Companion

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    Jun 7, 2007

    ITA grade1teacher!

    I had a student who had learned early on that crying got her what she wanted in terms of escape. When the work was too tough, instead of asking for help, she would burst into tears and ask to go to the nurse. After a few times of this, I realized that I was not doing her any favors by allowing this to continue. I had to get a bit tougher. The next time she burst into tears, I told her to take a minute and then go to the sink and wash her face and come back to her seat and we would go over the work together.

    It *was rough* for the first few days after that, but about a week or so later we all realized she hadn't cried at all. Yes, the child probably does have a need, but I believe that we need to teach students more appropriate ways to communicate and deal with stress and aggravation.
     

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