Weepy 7-year-old needs help to control tears

CHILD LIFE

July 21, 1996|By Beverly Mills | Beverly Mills,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

My granddaughter is 7, and for the past year at least, she cries over the least little thing. Her tears flow so easily, my daughter loses patience. Is crying this much normal? What should be done about it?

A Grandmother

Your granddaughter's tears could possibly be explained by the gloomy, everybody-hates-me outlook common among children at age 7.

Or the crying could be the symptom of a problem at home or school that she has been unwilling or unable to talk about.

"Some 7-year-olds do cry at the drop of a hat," says Carol Chase Haber, who wrote the Gesell Institute of Human Development's "Your Seven-Year-Old: Life in a Minor Key" (Dell, $10.95) with Louise Bates Ames.

While 7-year-olds are calmer, more thoughtful and more reasonable than they were at 6, they can also be somewhat melancholy in their outlook of the world, thinking others are picking on them and don't like them, says Haber, a school psychologist in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.

They are also easily disappointed, fearful and worried, making tears a likely outlet.

Acknowledge the tears and be sympathetic, she recommends, but only to a certain point.

"If you recognize this as just being 7, and don't become enmeshed, they have an easier time coming out of it," Haber says.

Pick a specific amount of time that it's OK for your child to cry and then set the timer, Haber says. "It gives them time to think, and 7-year-olds like to think."

A 7-year-old's tears may also be a child's way of telling you there's something wrong, advises Jonathan Bloomberg, chairman of the psychiatry department at Rockford Memorial Hospital in Rockford, Ill.

"Crying is a symptom. You need to look what's behind the symptom," he says. Adds reader Judy Glover of Arizona: "If she feels threatened and can't talk, she will cry to let you know something is wrong."

A new baby in the family, an illness or death and marital problems are all possible sources of stress to a 7-year-old. Once you find out what's really bothering the child, talk it out, Bloomberg advises parents.

Pub Date: 7/21/96

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