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There Are No Such Thing As Crocodile Tears

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Kids cry. Some of them seem to cry a lot more than others. And, their crying can be super annoying to us!

Especially when we feel like they’re crying over nothing. Or, if we think they’re crying to get attention. Or, if we think they’re crying just to get their way.

But, here’s the truth, and it’s not very convenient… Kids cry when they have an unmet need.

Some reasons kids cry:

  • Pain
  • Frustration/feeling of being incompetent
  • Seeking connection and comfort from a parent or carer
  • Fear or overstimulation
  • Accumulation of pent up emotions

While crying does indicate that something is ‘wrong‘, crying is not alway something we need to stop. Obviously, if see that they’re in pain or very sick, and maybe need medical attention we should respond appropriately. But other times, the reason for our child’s tears are not so obvious and we get annoyed because we think they’re crying over nothing and they should just shut up.

But… can you cry on demand? Unless you’re a well trained actor, chances are that you can’t. So, if an adult can’t cry on demand, a child can’t. Aletha Solter, the founder of Aware Parenting describes the need to cry similar to the need to defecate. If you don’t feel the urge to poo, you can’t just poo on demand! Similarly, a child who has no reason to cry, won’t just start crying.

What we can do when our child cries ‘crocodile’ tears

  • Listen
  • Observe how it triggers you
  • Don’t try to interrupt or distract their crying (think of it as better out than in, letting their emotions out now, will reduce whining later).
  • Understand that there’s likely an accumulation of emotions and the event or situation that they’re crying over (like cutting their sandwich into squares instead of triangles) was just the straw that broke the donkey’s back.

And, just as a reminder, we don’t have to feel bad when our child cries and we find it annoying. Crying triggers a response in us that probably comes from our past and/or our conditioning in society that leads us to believe that crying is ‘bad’. We don’t have to analyse our child’s every tear and wonder what we did wrong to cause them to cry. Even in the most attentive families, kids get upset or have an unmet needs. It just happens!

(My daughter was totally posing for this photo. So, I guess these were crocodile tears after all)

3 Responses »

  1. I saw a video the other day (on social media of course) and there was a class of 4 year old students in China or Japan and three of the students were triplets. They all had paint brush in hand and were painting calligraphy of some kind at their desks. The teacher noticed one boy painted on his desk. The teacher joked about hitting him and then called him up to his desk in front of the entire class and humiliated him for the mistake and the boy cried. And then the teacher tried to quell his sadness with a candy. And told him to calm down and get back to work. The boy kept crying and the teacher encouraged one his brothers to hug him and wipe the tears. And this was recorded for some kind of tv program and you could hear audience laughing the whole time. I thought…there is sooo much wrong with how this whole thing was handled. Yet hundreds of comments were all in fun and laughter 🙁

  2. Great post! Every parent must really observe how their child behave. A child might have a problem that they can’t open up. Parents must always have time to talk to their children and talk about things that happen in school or what they did for the whole day. 🙂


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