What to Do With a Cryer?

cryingThe Question:

 It’s day 7 of school and my sympathies for my cryer are running on empty. He cries ALL day off and on. (Mom still wipes his bottom in the bathroom)

How long do you remain the sweet teacher before you get tough?

The Answers:


You need to get tough now!


 Have you tried allowing him to have a comfort item? Keep following routines! 7 days in the grand scheme of things isn’t much. It took him 5 years to get this attached to his mom. It might take a little longer to get him attached to you.


 What do your principal and guidance counselor say?


 Remain the sweet teacher and give him/ her some time to adjust . Also maybe get the school social worker or psychologist to help out.


 Get tough now.


 I had a kiddo that cried for many many days at the beginning of school. I contacted the family and it had nothing to do with kindergarten. The poor kid disliked his after school arrangements and would get all worked up throughout the school day about it. I say talk to the family. Include the child in a conference.


Day 7??? He has been doing this every day? Get tough. Tell mom to get tough too.


 Day 1 is when I show tough love


 If this kid has never been to school before this is only day 7 for him… Give home some time, he is 5


 I used to tell my parents “drop and run; don’t linger”. It’s much easier on everyone. Within a few days, all is good!!


 I had one who cried for 2 weeks — the school counselor saved my sanity by taking her out for a while every day. She still comes to see me — taller than I am now — and I am glad I didn’t give up on her! She made a friend after a couple weeks, and that made all the difference.


 Is mom coming to school to still wipe his butt or is that unrelated?


 Does he cry because he wants to go home???  I have one this year and I started writing a schedule of our day on the board. Reading Math Lunch Calendar Etc As we did things, I checked them off or just erased them. It’s been helping him to see how much is left and the tears are starting to go now. He left with a smile on his face today!!!


 I had 1 like that my first year. I didn’t give in but he was definitely a momma’s boy. In first grade, his teacher would show up at his house because he wouldn’t come to school and the parents didn’t take him. She would have to chase and catch him to put him in her car to take him school- very small school district. So put your foot down now, console him when necessary but do your best to be tough.


 A few years ago I had a crier. She missed her twin brother who was in a different class. I was always so sweet and caring to her. She was a great kid. That year, my class was very tough and they took a lot out of me. One day, we were in the playground with her brother’s class and she was crying. I was worn out already and it was still September. She came over to me crying. I said, your brother is here, why are you crying? She said because he will leave. So, having no patience left I said, “Does crying make you happy”? She looked at me puzzled so I repeated myself. She looked at me and said “No”. So I said, “Well, if crying doesn’t make you happy why don’t you do something that makes you feel better since this isn’t working for you?” She thought about it and walked away. I felt bad when she walked away but the funny thing is, SHE NEVER CRIED AGAIN! She was a happy, giggling child the rest of the year.


The time is now! Get tuff!


 Don’t give up! Have you tried having a picture of Mom and or family? A comfort item, such as small toy? Assigning a special buddy? Asked for assistance from a social worker or counselor? Many years ago I had a student who cried – no wailed – every day for the first month. His crying would set off a few other students so at times I would have 2-3 crying children. I thought I would lose my mind. Eventually, they all adjusted – although the weeks after a long break would trigger more crying but did not last too long. Working closely with the families I became good friends with the mothers. 13 years later they are HS graduates and heading off to college. I was just viewing pictures of one of them moving into his dorm – I am so proud of the young man he has become. I hope that someday you can look back on this year the same as I do. Good Luck.


 I got a couple to stop crying (out loud, anyway) by telling them I didn’t care if they cry as long as they do it silently. Then they could cry all day for all I cared. I was surprised when it really worked, but thrilled at the same time…..as were my other kids.


I’d get tough now – there are kids who respond well to it – he may just need you to be and then he will be done.


 Time to get tough! Have mom say goodbye at door & no more wipes in bathroom. Find the child a sweet friend to have fun with. I had 3 criers on day 1. I’m on day 12 & everyone greets with a smile 😀


 I did many of the ideas mentioned above. I did Kristin Murray’s check off and that helped many times. One year I had a boy that cried so loud I finally told him he would have to stand outside the door ( with it open so I could see him) so the other students could still hear and learn. He finally seemed to settle himself. I taught for 39 years and had many criers. Different strategies work for different kids. PS. Parents were NOT allowed in the classroom if their child was a crier. They could volunteer once there was no longer a problem.


 Talk to mom about helping foster independence


 Wait wait wait a sec…did I read this right? …..mom is still wiping his butt at school? Does this mean that mom is there all day? If mom is there all day of course he’s gonna be crying- has mom’s total attention and she is under his thumb……


 Sorry, 15th year and I am tough Day 1! I give hugs and encouragement while establishing my expectations and sense of Urgency for learning at the same time. My principal is the BEST and it helps to have her 100% backing. As my criers adjust they are rewarded with my and peer praise and positive calls/notes home. Good luck this year!


 Get tough! Mom needs to to start letting go so he can become more independent. I agree with Marisa it starts on Day 2


 I say get tough, but also have heart. Bribing works sometimes too. Offer prizes for small increments of time with no crying and increase the time when it gets better.

Lora  I had seven criers one year. Three cried every day for weeks and that set off the others. They were also trying to run away. So I had to hold one and two aides each held the other two. The biggest offender finally went to the office every morning and the principal brought him to class after he calmed down. (He was also screaming at his parents for leaving him.) Everyone else pretty much stopped crying as soon as he was removed.


 I had one a couple of years ago that cried just about all day and I ended up giving her a stuffed animal to hold at school whenever she wanted and for a while she took it home just to bring back each day…it so worked!! This year I have had another one and tried exactly the same thing and she would go and get it herself and would put it back once she is comforted at school. There is no conversation and they console themselves with the animal. I have a frog theme so it is the same little frog:)). Worked so far!! Good luck:)


 I agree with many of the above. If mom is staying, put foot down, especially with wiping the bottom, and firmly, but politely explain that he needs to start having a healthy separation between school and home, because one of the major goals in Kindergarten is fostering independence and you don’t want him to be behind. You could soften the blow by getting her contact information and offering to send her pictures of him working hard…if you think she could handle this (but be clear that this will not be every day, all year long, you can set a definitive deadline such as for the next week). With the student, be supportive and encouraging, but direct and firm. Rather than allowing him to bring in something of comfort (could cause trouble in attachment for much longer, or monkey see, monkey do, etc.) I would suggest paying special attention to his interests and see if there is an activity he enjoys that you can take some time to do with him. If he’s crying, acknowledge his feelings so he feels understood and maybe do “First and then” (First we are going to do calendar, then we will go outside and if you do these activities calmly, I would love to read a story to you later). When he follows through on the deal, calmly tell him/whisper in ear that you are so proud that he followed directions and now you will do _______ because he did what he was asked. But as others have been saying, let the school counselor know especially, just as a heads-up for right now and monitor the behavior.


 I am so glad you shared this. I just had ROUGH back to school night with one parent…well, let’s just say, I would NEVER EVER ENCOURAGE ANYONE To go into teaching. EVER! Ive been teaching 15 years. Kinder 1st. The push of academics into kinder is a mess. I’m going to go and read the wonderful suggestions above my post. My fellow teachers always lift me up. Now, that’s one thing I’d miss if I left teaching. My wonderful fellow teachers… Just read the comments. thank you! I guess it’s tough for parents to realize I’m not the student’s mother or grandma or favorite auntie. I am the teacher. One of my biggest jobs as a kinder teacher is to give the student the gift of INDEPENDENCE. Hopefully, those students will get so independent they will read and write and think all by themselves, even at the end of kindergarten. Onward To June!!


 I do not promise it will work100% but it has worked for me. I have card with a broken clock on it. “It’s not time for that” card. I give it to the child and say ” it is not time to cry”. I set a timer and say in in _____ min it will be time to cry” the amount depends on the child.  If it is hard case I usually start out with 2-min increments then making them longer, 5-10, and so on. Then when the time goes off I give them another card…the crying card. “It’s time to cry” and I tell them cry as hard and loud as you want for —min. Then when the timer goes I switch cards and reset the timer, and I am tough. When it isn’t time to cry, it isn’t time to cry! After awhile….usually within a few days it is better, then after a few weeks none at all. When we say do not cry,or that is nothing to cry about, we are really saying your feelings don’t matter. They do matter, but we have to teach them self management of those feelings…by allowing them to cry it also gives them some control they have lost.

Take or toss;)


 Get tough! I am strict and mean these first few weeks. Or months depending on what is needed. Every class is different. towards the end of the year is when I soften up. I want my students to Learn all they can in the short time they are with me. They are still in kinder and need their free exploration time but when it’s academic they best be on their best behavior.


 I had a first grader a couple years ago who was a crier… Mom was very concerned so we had him talk to the counselor. Apparently he thought he was done with school forever after kindergarten graduation and was upset to learn he would be coming back for the next 12 years! Once we explained it to him he was not thrilled but he stopped crying because I guess he knew what to expect haha… If you have a counselor, see if you can get her involved, maybe it would help


Having just finished the fourth day of school for the 41st year, I can identify with the crying problem! No crying the first day this year but one yesterday and one today. I usually tell them that I know how they feel. That I want to be home sometimes , too, but that we are all here to learn lots of things! I give them a hug and then I ignore them if they are not disrupting my lesson. They will usually stop when they do not have the attention they want. Many cry in the afternoon when they are so exhausted that they cannot control it. With no naps now and the pressure to achieve, meltdowns can happen. it usually takes a couple of weeks for this behavior to taper off as the children learn to handle it. Patience is a necessary trait but it is tried sorely by the criers. Just know that it is usually short-lived and they become independent learners! Some of my worst criers became wonderful student friends and return often to say hello! You got some wonderful advice from your fellow teachers so try whatever works. Good luck and have a great year!


 Let the kids work it out…This is a post of mine from 4 years ago. Still one of my favorite stories….Out of the mouths of babes file: A boy in my kindergarten class has cried for the first nine days of school. Finally, on the playground today, a little girl touched him on his shoulders, turned him toward her face to face, and I heard her say: “OK, you can’t go around crying all the time at school. You’ve GOT to toughen up. Otherwise, everyone will say, What is wrong with that kid?”


 6 days ago?  I give mine a couple days to settle in and then start working in the tough love. Weaning mom off of helping him is a necessary but difficult challenge for you for sure!


 NOW!!!!!!! Get momma out of there and the kids will be fine!!! I only let a day or two go….have great support from administration which helps! Good luck!!! Get the parents outta there!!!!


 I’m retired now, but love to keep up with everyone! I had more than one crier over the years and my best solution (after lots of hugs and reassurance) was to start crying myself (alone with the child) and that usually stopped them cold! They turned into very loving, caring children who just needed to ‘care’ for someone else. Good luck.


 Time to get tough is now! With mom and student!


 We go over rules and laws… with the criers I let them know it is the law that they come to school…


 I had a crier last year. I finally took het to the side and said I know you miss mommy, but the President of the United States says it is the law that you come to school. If you don’t come to school then mommy and daddy are breaking the rules and will get in trouble by the President. I then told her it is ok to cry but she has to do this quietly on the inside. It took a couple more days, And I just kept reminding her about the parent law. Seems evil but it worked!


Get tough now!


 A dear colleague of mine finally had enough of her crier. One day she finally said to him, “Turn off the tears!” while making her hands do the “waaa waaa” motion like the “wheels on the bus.” Ever since then that was their motion to remind him that if it wasn’t a big deal and he didn’t need to be upset that he stop crying. It stuck, and it worked! Clearly she had tried everything and tough love was what worked.


It is time now! Be firm but kind.


I had one last year that cried off and on for five or six weeks…..one sibling in one building near her and the other in the other building.. The counselor read her The Kissing Hand and it helped…the student saw the counselor in the lunchroom and would tell her if she had cried that morning….she turned out to be one of my brightest students.


 Mom cannot stay. This makes this transition time harder to occur. She must go and he will cry really hard at first. Your teacher aide may take him for a walk around the school and play with him 1-1 or with a small group until he gets acclimated. You can praise him whenever you see fit.


 Ask admin to meet with you and the parent and point out to the mom that part of kindergarten is teaching independence.


 Oh dear. Why do parents do this to their kids?


 Sounds like you have a helicopter parent. At a certain point I had to say no parents for the first full month to give kids time to adjust.


Is he a “young kindie”? Perhaps he needs to try again next year? If not, wow… sounds like it’s time for that difficult apron strings talk. I feel for you! Be strong!


 Every year there is at least one! Hang in there! Be firm but fair. Make small goals. Ask mom to separate at the door by saying have a good day rather than bye and then turn and walk. The child may scream but say its time for school and you’re safe. Try to get the child to a place where he can see everything and then you should continue with your plan to show his crying won’t change the class. After a day or two of this you should see curiosity begin to bud and perhaps some engagement. Try rewarding little things.


 Last year I had a little girl who was in pre-k the year before. She cried for the first two months or so in pre- k…all morning and was only there 1/2 days anyway. It was awful. She was hyper-attached to her mom and wanted to be at home. Then last year she was in my room for K. She cried all day, on and off, for two months. Maybe more. It was awful. The kids felt bad and so did I. I told her. She needed to sit quietly so we could still work, but she eventually stopped. It was the longest few months! Her family knew about it and was supportive of the situation. A few times if she could make it to a certain point without crying, I would give her a special prize, or let her make a picture for mom. This sometimes worked. Not always though. Calling home did not work, it just make her cry more.


 I’m so glad a lot of you agree with me. I actually posted this awhile ago. This is day 15 now. I talked to mom AND dad. First, there is a language barrier. Dad was the enforcer and said he would start taking away things from the boy. From then on, the boy has done much better. Yes, I did get tough. I can’t have anyone screaming their heads off in my attached bathroom. We got absolutely nothing done as a class with all that caterwauling going on. He’s one of my oldest students, almost 6, and still so immature. Will still cry if someone touches him wrong, but I’m done with the crying. Thanks for all the encouraging words!  BTW he was in 1/2 day pre-k last year


 I was going to say on day 2!


 Firm, but with a warm smile. Inform parents it’s better for the child if they give quick hugs and blow kisses, then leave. They can watch, from out of sight to see how quickly the child calms down once the parent has left. Give the child a responsibility, and use that sticker chart! A sticker for every morning they come with dry eyes…after 20 stickers, a trip to the treasure box happens ( supplied by parents from dollar store items).. Works for me every time. Ps…this is my 34th year!  Also, find all kinds of positive reasons to build up that sticker chart quickly!


 Bless your heart for caring enough to try and help this child. We have all had a cryer… and there isn’t a clear answer. Give it time and patience. Just when you think you might go bananas, the crying will stop. *I have had kids cry so hard that they vomit, try to escape the classroom, and one cried for an entire month. Not normal, but they all eventually stopped and at the end of the school year… THEY LOVED SCHOOL! Put an extra scoop of sugar in your coffee, a smile on your face, and remember YOU ARE AMAZING!


 One year I had a similar child and worked with the parent to say goodbye sooner, quicker & in a routine way daily. The child was fine in a couple days and the parent was clearly disappointed! Makes me so angry! So selfish & not fair to the kids when parents have this baggage. 9 out of 10 times its more their problem. I don’t think being “tough” has to equal mean etc. you can still be kind, but set boundaries/rules/expectations and stick to them.

Teri Jo

 Time’s up! you might have to get tough with the family also, they might be making the problem worse!


 As long as it takes. Just go on about your business as if nothing is happening. A kind word to start the day and then go for it. Part of it is attention. they are used to being the center of attention and they need to learn the reality of being part of a group that looks out for each other.  PS. Retired 41 yr kdg. vet.


 I had a kid who cried through October. I did all the psychological stuff (picture, lovey, etc.) Finally, I told him if he didn’t stop crying, he couldn’t come to school on Halloween and be in the parade (I was desperate and YOUNG!). And, of all things, that worked, and he became one of my best students that year. Weird.


 I kept an interactive daily schedule on the board. I assigned the crier the job of moving the magnet man to the picture of the next activity. I started this years ago with a crier/vomiter/LEP student. It gives all the children a sense of time and lets the crier see how close they are to seeing mom again.


 I love all of the ideas that everyone posted! It’s always great to have a new idea “up my sleeve”, just in case! Wanted to add a story just to let you know that some of them never really stop crying… I had a boy who made it through the first week with no problems, but the second week of school was when the crying began – his “honeymoon” was over! He even said “You know when you are at FunLand (like a big Chuck E. Cheese), and you just don’t want to leave because you’re having so much fun? Well that’s what its like when I come to school – home is more fun than school!” At the time, I felt like this was something that someone at home had said to him, because it just sounded “too adult” to be coming from his mouth. He finally adjusted and bonded to me and my paraprofessional, but anytime I was out, it would start the cycle all over again! This went on all year long, and the last time I was out, (for just the morning – in May), he cried even after I returned to the room! I really thought it was me, except I had a lot of people who knew this family personally and said that Mom really seemed to encourage this behavior. To kind of prove their point, the next year Mom homeschooled him, and he has not returned to public school yet. He will be in 6th grade this fall! As someone above said “WHY DO PARENTS DO THIS TO THEIR KIDS?”


 It’s so hard to see such a sad little face. Quick good byes, hugs and 1 kiss then go get a drink of water and give them first morning work. I tell them it’s ok to feel sad sometimes and to cry, but they have to cry quietly so they don’t bother others. If they are loud I have them start in a quiet corner until they can be quieter or get it together. I give them kind words and support. After first week I ask the class to help me help them by trying not to notice that they are crying. Just act like you don’t notice. At the end of the day, As the crying decreases in length each day give praise for how quickly they were able to stop today and encourage them that maybe tomorrow they will be able to do it with no tears. When that day comes celebrate it with rewards for the cryer and something small for the class who has been so helpful. . Good luck.


One day…mom should be told she cannot come into the classroom until this baby stops crying and starts adjusting to school. I had a cryer one year, and by the end of the year, he was one of my favorites and just loved school!


I know there are so many wonderful ideas for how to deal with a crier that have already been posted. I would like to share one idea that worked really really well for me. I had a fish tank in my classroom and a chair next to it that I told the students was the “crying” chair. That was the place they could go to cry. Once they sat in the chair I would feed the fish for them to see. For some this distraction worked quickly..for others it took a little more time. Once the child established the chair as the crying chair I would move it to another area and replace it with a different chair..which of course was NOT the crying chair. Worked really really well. I also think it is important to validate the child’s feelings, for whatever reasons…it is their coping mechanism at the time and it is what they know to do. Validation makes it easier to build a relationship with the child. Lastly, Brazelton did a study years ago on separation anxiety. The parent needs to be speedy when saying goodbye to the child. Parents who left their child within 20 seconds made it easier for the child to recover from the separation. The longer the parent stays, the harder the separation will be. Just some info that has helped me. I share it with the parents every year before the first day of school.


I think a week is about right. I tell all my parents to pack a family photo in their bag that they can visit with or hold if they need to “see” mom- We also make a family album with everyone’s families with simple print. They draw their family and we paste in the pics, It stays in the library for everyone but many times the criers seek it out first thing. As for the potty- I google some potty training tips and attach them with a nice note explaining that proficiency in the bathroom is not only a life skill and health skill- but that in this day and age being able to wipe will give the parent peace of mind. Here at school he can trust his teachers, but as his world expands (little league, after school extras, birthday parties, play dates etc.) his parents will have piece of mind that virtual strangers will not be called upon to do this task. Very young children are vulnerable- and no adult or older child needs to be in the bathroom with a boy who can manage this by himself. It might be a little harsh but it usually does the trick. Good luck.


Years ago…One first grader….mom was a mess crying with the little girl and so sad…poor kid was mirroring moms anxiety!  Child told me…if I jumped in front of the bus I could be home !!! Another little boy in preschool hollered screamed kicked. I put him in a room by himself while my co worker handled the class….this little guy ran the show, at home, only child and mom under his thumb…a few minutes seemed like forever! He finally stopped…but ugh felt awful. I kept telling him as soon as you stop we will go have fun with everyone… The first little girl struggled awhile, but mom needed counseling! They have not differentiated their life and their child’s I think…need to see this child has a life of their very own to live and it is not theirs to live for or through them! This year I have a six year old terror! Mad at the world (with reason sadly) rolls around at big group, hurts others, angry ugly words….changes the entire room when he is there, he is with spec Ed much of the time due mostly to temper! So sad and miserable…thought I would not make it first few days.


4 thoughts on “What to Do With a Cryer?

  1. I usually have a chair set up in the corner away from everybody and I set a timer for 5 minutes. I say if you want to cry that’s fine you have 5 minutes here is a timer but you have to cry over here so you don’t bother the other children. Usually they are back with the group before the timer goes off.

  2. Day One, I tell them that happiness is a choice. And choosing to be happy means your day will go so much faster and then you can go home to Mom and Dad and tell them how great your day was. Mom and Dad do not want you to be sad, and I know you miss them. But time to be strong, and get happy! By second day, no more tears. Choosing to be happy is part of our Class Promise. You are going to have to get tough! With compassion!

  3. I give them some space to start with. Then I approach them softly and just tell that it is all okay. They will be back with mom in a little while. I tell them it is okay to miss your mom. I miss mine too. But this is a fun place too and it is for big boys and girls. Then give space again. I allow mine a comfort item like a blanky. But I whisper to them, I don’t normally allow blankies, but I will let you for a little while.After a day or two I get very matter of fact. I can not change this for you. We are here together and I am happy you are with us. Once they are mostly over the hump I say things like I need you to think about leaving your blanky home next week. You don’t have to yet, but just be thinking about it. Make the process gradual and add a reward, even if it is just praise, the day they leave it at home.

  4. I agree with two items because I use both and find they work—tough love (no extra hugs when they are crying—save those for when they aren’t crying and praise them for their smile at that moment) and a comfort item. I have small pillows which may be kept at the desk and hugged when needed (they have Pooh characters on them:)

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