Dear Grandparenting: I am on a mission for any reasonable explanations why both my grandchildren cry so much.
Nobody likes crybabies. That gets on your nerves real fast. I have a grandson who is seven and a granddaughter going on six. It is a rare day that one or both doesn’t get into a crying fit and their parents will tell you the same thing.
The worst I know of was last week when my grandson got upset at the mall and started crying in front of his buddies. He felt mighty bad about losing it in public.
Being ashamed like that is a terrible thing for any young grandchild. That’s when I decided to get in touch with you. What’s going on with my two? Rip Higgins, Seattle, WA
Dear Rip: Elementary school age children vary greatly in their ability to regulate emotions. The majority will cry less after learning to talk because they are able to verbalize their wants and needs.
But according to child behavior experts, some 15-20 percent of sensitive, empathetic children with a “low distress tolerance” are prone to cry excessively.
Multiple studies show the benefits of responding to teary youngsters in a comforting and supportive manner, versus a punishing, knock-it-off-or-else approach. Nurturing environments tend to turn out grandchildren who are more confident and socially adept.
Painful as it was, we’ll bet your grandson learns something the hard way from his public meltdown. It’s also important for older family members to serve as good role models, since children learn by observing how adults cope when experiencing strong emotions.
Yet another recent study produced interesting results about the quickest way to get kids to stop crying. Trying to reason with or comfort highly agitated children only makes the tantrum worst. Researchers found that brief, direct orders like “go to your room” that cut through the emotional clutter work best.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
George King, of Springfield, Ohio, weighed in with this observation:
“They used to say that no cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent was pulling a baby picture out of a wallet.”
“Ready for an updated 2018 version? How about how fast a grandparent is clicking on a baby photo on their cell phone?”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.