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<p>DS, who just turned 3, is a calm, sensitive, perceptive, and articulate kid. For the past several months, he's had these episodes where he cries unnecessarily, and uncharacteristically. Scenario #1: The bath. No problem washing, playing etc, but the second it's time to wash his hair, no amount of rationalizing or bargaining can prevent him or stop him from bawling through the entire process, until he's out of the tub. He's beyond reason during the crying. I ask him afterward what it is about washing his hair, and he says he's afraid of getting water on his face. Of course, I'm VERY careful not to do this, and it's not made much easier by him being uncooperative. He's never had any "scary" water episodes involving water in his face. We've tried giving him a towel to cover his face, pretending to wash ducky's hair (which he loves), bargaining, pleading, you name it. At this point I just say, "Okay honey, well, we're going to have to wash your hair one way or the other, so you can either do it crying or not crying." His response, "I'm going to cry." Then he starts working up the tears. But the thing is, there's not really any tears! He's just kind of forcing himself to cry. I don't even say anything about it anymore. I just gently get the job done and get it over with.</p>
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<p>Scenario #2: One day a week preschool. (ECFE for those who know what that is). We've been going to this program since he was an infant. Same teachers, kids, moms that it's always been. The difference this year is that halfway through the 1.5 hour program, the teacher flashes the lights, and the kids gather to have a snack while the moms/dads go to the next room for "parent group". Prior to this year we always just stayed with the kids through the whole program. Well, the first time he didn't cry. We talked about it beforehand, and I showed him the room where I would be, and he handled it great. No tears. 75% of the other kids cried though. The next few times he fell apart the second the lights flashed. Real tears, real anxiety. Then, my partner offered him the following bribe, "If you don't cry this time, then I'll let you have some root beer at supper tonight. Say what you will about bribery (and giving children soda), it worked like a charm, at least for a few times. Now he's back to crying vehemently as soon as the teacher flashes the lights. None of the other kids cry anymore, and DS's crying has become pretty disruptive to an otherwise calm time for the kids. But I don't want to remove him from the room because I'm afraid that will reinforce the behavior. He WANTS to leave the room with me. I do take him to the bathroom however, and try to rationalize with him while he washes his hands, to no avail. He eventually finds a seat at the table, and reciprocates the "thumbs-up" I give him as I'm walking out the door, albeit through sobs. He settles down pretty quickly, but I HATE that he cries. It makes me feel awful.</p>
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<p> He  still loves going to ECFE, but he's become preoccupied with "When is Leann going to flash the lights? I don't want you to go in the other room. I'm going to cry when you leave." And when he first starts crying, it's that fake, forced cry that eventually turns into real tears. What the heck? By the way, his all-time favorite game is "I'll pretend to be Leann and flash the lights and you have to go in the other room with the kids while I have coffee with the Mommies". Multiple variations on this theme. You'd think this kind of role-playing might be helpful. Not so far.</p>
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<p>Any ideas about this?</p>
 

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<p>It doesn't really sound like forced crying.  It sounds more like anxiety to me.  Remember when you knew there was going to be a fire drill that day, you waited and waited til it almost made you crazy.  By the time they had the fire drill, it scared and upset you.  (plus the fire drill is really awful)   In high school, I ran track.  I HATED waiting for the shot start us.  It made me nervous and almost sick to my stomach.  I wasn't afraid of the noise, just the anticipation of it.</p>
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<p>He's anticipating the lights flashing so much that it's startling and unpleasant.    It's probably the same thing with the water.  Maybe he can lie back after you drain the tub and you can pour the water very carefully over the top of his head.  Also, maybe add a few baths in the week, but don't wash his hair.  It puts the fun back in bathtime.  </p>
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<p>We all anticipate something til we make ourselves nervous.  It's natural and normal at any age.  How he's handling it is age appropriate.  </p>
 

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<p>I agree that it's anxiety about what's upcoming more than 'forced' crying.</p>
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<p>Have you tried simply empathizing with him and not trying to talk him out of it? Saying "I know you like it when I stay. What are you doing when I'm going? Well, be sure to tell me all about snack when I get back!" This is the age when I found the ideas in "How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen..." by Faber and Mazlish really began to work.</p>
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<p>For school, I would simply expect him to cry and not try to stop him. He needs to get it out. Let the teacher deal with it, if you're comfortable. Let him know that someone else can comfort him in times of stress. Maybe talk to the teacher about what would work for her and the group. I think playing that at home is very therapeutic, but it will take months for you to see an effect. My ds is the master at that. He still does it to some extent today.</p>
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<p>For the bath, I highly recommend a <a href="http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=536715&categoryId=85180" target="_blank">bath visor</a>. It keeps the water out of the eyes and helps a lot. I would also just be matter of fact -- 'it's time to wash your hair. Do you want the visor? Ok, here you go. How about a washcloth to put over your eyes too?" When he cries, just say "I know you don't like this, we'll be done soon." Take a break to let him breathe. "OK, take a deep breath and then we'll rinse." My 9 year old STILL  hates to have his hair washed, and he still uses a visor. He doesn't cry anymore, but he does hold his breath. The breath-holding makes him anxious (as the lack of oxygen should!) and so I need to give him a break.</p>
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<p>Have you read "The Highly Sensitive Child"? It sounds like your son might fit the bill. This book was very helpful for me in understanding both my kids -- both are highly sensitive in different ways.</p>
 

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<p>I think I will try the bath visor. I pulled up the picture of it and showed it to my son and explained how it works. I said, "Should we try one of those sometime?" "No, I don't want that." Well, I'm going to get one anyway, you never know, he may change his mind.</p>
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<p>I think you're both right about the anticipation factor. Maybe I will talk to the teacher about it. I thought maybe she could come give DS a signal before she does it, or even possibly let him do it, something like that.</p>
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<p>I do try empathy a lot. Validating the emotions he's experiencing. "Are you scared honey? I'm sorry you're scared, I promise to be very careful not to get water in your eyes" etc.  I love the article in the latest Mothering issue about this topic. I try to never tell him to stop crying. I think I will get "The Highly Sensitive Child". This is not the first time someone's recommended that book. I was also a painfully sensitive little kid, with a lot of anxiety.</p>
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<p>Thanks for your ideas!</p>
 

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<p>My dd used to go in the bathroom to look in the mirror when she wanted to force some tears out.  Once she got a few she threw herself into it and had a hard time getting out.  My dd has never had anxiety and I don't think that fake crying is an anxious thing.  My dd was very smart and she noticed that real tears got her a mom who worked to take away the cause of the tears so it wasn't a big surprise that she figured out a way to squeeze tears out in an attempt to get me to give her what she wanted.  Fortunately she chose to look in the mirror first and there was a real pattern to both the onset of the real tears and the onset of the fake ones that I discovered based on her use of the mirror to raise the tears.  I think that you know your son and you should follow your instincts on this.</p>
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<p>I think you should treat this the same way you would treat him saying he doesn't want to do something, ignore the forced fit and focus on whether you are willing to compromise or not on the issue that causes the fake tears.  I suggest that you talk to him about why you are going to do his hair at bath time and the fun part of the nighttime routine that comes afterwards (books, snuggle time, telling him a story in bed, etc...) and talk try to build a fun thing into the day you go to ECFE (maybe a cookie afterwards or a coffee shop run if you can scrounge up the money for it).  When dd resists things I tend to talk to her about why we are doing what we are doing, I tell her I will not change my mind, and I tell her she can choose to be happy or sad but that choice is only going to affect her because I will be happy regardless. </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>leahmn12</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282377/forced-crying#post_16080316"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><p> </p>
<p>I do try empathy a lot. Validating the emotions he's experiencing. "Are you scared honey? I'm sorry you're scared, I promise to be very careful not to get water in your eyes" etc.  I love the article in the latest Mothering issue about this topic. I try to never tell him to stop crying. I think I will get "The Highly Sensitive Child". This is not the first time someone's recommended that book. I was also a painfully sensitive little kid, with a lot of anxiety.</p>
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<p>Thanks for your ideas!</p>
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<p>Ah... but you're not 'just' empathizing. You're trying to STOP him from crying, even if you aren't telling him not to cry ("I promise to be very careful..." = If I do this right, you won't have a reason to cry). His crying upsets you (as it should, parents are wired that way). But you may need to learn to shift your expectations from preventing crying to helping him learn to deal with it.</p>
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<p>What would happen if you stopped at "Are you scared honey? I'm sorry you're scared."? I have a highly emotional 6 year old, and when she gets worked up she needs me to reflect her feelings back <em>and</em> let her have her cry. She needs to know that I can handle her being upset. I get the impression that you're trying to fix the unfixable. Instead of going out of your way to 'make things better', simply acknowledge your child's emotions and be there. Say <em>less</em>, not more.<br>
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