Home parenting My child suppresses crying

My child suppresses crying

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

Crying is an emotion that is often considered bad in our society. It’s a feeling that we adults try to allow, if at all, then only in secret, all by ourselves. However, some children suppress crying too.

Children suppress crying, especially if they have learned this from their parents or close adults. Another reason may be that they have had bad experiences. When our children suppress crying, many problems can arise.

In the following article, you will learn the reasons and possible consequences.

Why isn’t my child crying?

A child may not cry for the following reasons:

  • It has not learned to associate the feeling of sadness with crying.
  • We have taught our children that crying is undesirable.
  • Your child has had a bad experience crying in front of others.
  • However, your child may also have a very high tolerance.

The reason for crying can be very different. It mostly shows up when we are overwhelmed by emotions. It doesn’t matter what the feeling is. Of course, this varies greatly from person to person.

Tears come from the heart and not from the mind.Leonardo da Vinci

Learning children to show feelings

Children should cry if the situation calls for it. However, from a child’s point of view, not from our adult point of view. Children first have to learn to recognize, classify and show feelings. Babies cry from the beginning of their lives, but for reasons other than sadness. It’s their only way of communicating a need. It’s screaming and rarely crying.

However, crying is an essential expression of different feelings for us humans. We cry because we:

  • are sad
  • are angry
  • we are thrilled
  • be scared
  • scare or
  • are surprised 
  • are touched
  • be in pain

By explaining to our children what they are feeling or how we are feeling right now, children can learn well how which feelings are filled, which facial expressions and gestures go with them, and what someone looks like when they have a corresponding feeling.

Feeling cards are perfect for explaining. This gives your children a visual clue. Children usually learn more easily with pictures.


Emotional control is not fully developed until the age of 6.

Allow yourself to cry and take your feelings seriously

If your child cries, let them cry. We parents tend to tell children not to cry. “Oh, it’s okay” or “That didn’t hurt at all, no reason to cry”.

Those are nice phrases. I’ve done this myself, and it slips out now and then. But we should take our children and their feelings seriously. Even if it means they cry.

We want to comfort them. But denying our children’s feelings is not comforting. When we tell our children, “No need to cry,” they usually believe us. Yet, they cry because their feelings tell them to. They are overwhelmed by emotion and their reaction is crying.

It would be better to simply hug and comfort our children. When children have calmed down a bit, you can start to get to the bottom of things and call things by their proper names. So: “But you cried a lot now. I think you were sad because…”

If we think that crying was inappropriate, we can also try to explain to our children the real reason why he/she is probably feeling so bad right now. “Oh dear, you were sorrowful now and cried a lot. Could it be that you are already tired, which is why it was particularly bad for you?” Most of us know when children are tired or hungry, a situation slips away much faster.

By naming, our children learn to perceive their feelings better and to name them correctly. It doesn’t work in days but has a beneficial effect over months.


Emotions are often reinforced by other basic needs.

Empower your child with positive experiences

Sometimes children have bad experiences somewhere else when they show their feelings. It happens that children are teased or laughed at by others when they cry. This creates shame in children. If this happens more often, our children try to avoid this situation and therefore learn to suppress crying.

In this case, you can try to strengthen your child by taking his/her needs and feelings seriously. You can also praise your child if you notice that your child communicated his or her concerns well or correctly named his/her feelings. These are important prerequisites for being able to deal constructively with one’s feelings.

The more self-confident your child is, the better they can deal with negative experiences and put them away. 

You can read more tips on how to empower your child here. 

High frustration threshold

Just because we find it sad doesn’t always mean it’s sad for our children. Some children have a fairly high tolerance until they start crying. This can be as true for sadness as it is for pain. Try to distinguish whether your child is actually suppressing crying or whether he/she is simply not sad. Children who suppress crying often pucker their mouths back and have glassy eyes. They also frequently tuck their chins toward their chests.

Your child suppresses feelings

Through self-regulation, children learn to show feelings to an appropriate degree: this has to be learned, however, and also depends on other circumstances, such as the state of the day and the fulfillment of needs.

Children who suppress feelings already have strong self-regulation. Not letting feelings come up requires quite a lot of control and also knowledge of one’s reactions.

But in the process of controlling our own emotions, it’s also important for our children to learn that it’s okay to show emotions. In our society, some feelings are more praised and thus encouraged than others. Joy, for example, is welcomed and often noted positively by us parents. In addition to the actual positive experience that comes with the joy and already reinforces it.

However, being angry or sad is not so welcome and is even less often praised. However, these feelings are completely normal and belong to us humans. We just need to teach our kids how to show them appropriately. Repression is not an appropriate way to deal with feelings. The feelings don’t go away because we tell our kids “don’t worry” or “it wasn’t that bad.” This is how our children only learn that they cannot trust themselves and that their feelings are wrong. 

It is also quite normal for children to mix and match feelings. Here it is our job as adults to help them by naming their feelings and reactions for them. When everything has calmed down and our children are receptive again, we can work out ways and strategies together with them. These should help them to let their feelings run their course appropriately. 

So, for example, cry and turn to someone you trust, or scream and stamp when you are angry. Simply find ways together that are right for your child and don’t hurt others or themselves.


Children are sometimes better at expressing their emotions when they feel safe. So in private, at home, on mom and dad’s laps.

My child never cries

Some parents report that their child never cries. If this is the case for you, you should take a look at why this is so. 

  • Has your child never had negative experiences?
  • Does it have a very high limit for frustration or pain?
  • Does it show its feelings in other ways?

Let your child have bad experiences too

Let your child have all experiences as long as they are not endangering themselves or others. A child should learn that if he/she shuts a drawer, and they are inside, he will pinch his fingers. It hurts when a stone falls on your foot or mom doesn’t always have time immediately when he’s bored.

Don’t let your child be in danger, but let them learn and experience. And bad experiences are just as important as good experiences. I believe that we shouldn’t eliminate everything bad for our children. Unless, of course, the dangers are obvious and serious. 

But of course, that can be one of the reasons why your child hardly ever cries: because it simply has no reason to.

High frustration or pain threshold

As mentioned above, some children simply have a very high limit for frustration, anger, or even pain. They just don’t mind as much as we’d think. They are, so to speak, tough. 

Also, try not to compare your child. No child is the same, not even siblings. And with things where one child has been crying for a long time, the other is simply not crying. Individual perception, one’s limits, self-confidence, the parent-child relationship, but also temperament, the condition of the day, and family circumstances have a strong influence on the experience and behavior of our children. This varies greatly from child to child, but also varies greatly within a child and depends on all of these factors, and more.

If you are concerned about this, contact your pediatrician.

Watch your child closely

Some children have not discovered crying as a reaction to a specific emotion, such as anger or sadness. Grief in particular does not show up in children as it does in adults, and therefore often do not cry. However, different behaviors can almost always be observed in our children.

Some children isolate themselves and prefer to be more alone, some children cuddle more than usual and some children are very excited, angry, or just quiet. It’s often hard for us adults to see, but usually, children just deal with their feelings in their way. Just because your child is quiet and likes to play alone when they’re sad doesn’t mean they’re repressing their feelings. It just doesn’t cry but shows its feelings differently.

You can try to address your child and discuss the situation with him/her. 

From kindergarten age, children can usually make it obvious in their way how they are doing. This way you can respond appropriately to the situation and comfort your child.

Be aware

Children don’t have to cry to be sad!

A child does not cry when in pain

Reflexes are usually tested in newborns right after birth. If there had been any anomalies in this regard, you would already know it. But if you are concerned, then please consult your pediatrician.

Psychologically, I can think of two reasons why your child doesn’t cry when they’re in pain:

  1. Your child shows different behaviors to express their pain. Crying is simply not part of the feeling of pain for your child. Many children cry when they are in pain, but of course, it is not a must. Everything is allowed. And as long as your child tells you and responds in their way, everything is fine. As mentioned, sadness and pain can also lead to anger or withdrawal. Just because it’s a common way to respond to pain doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy or even alarming if your child responds to pain differently. All that matters is that they seek help when they need it and know where to turn.
  2. As already mentioned, we adults tend not to take our children’s feelings seriously. Sometimes it’s our way of comforting them. ”Till your wedding, the pain is gone”, ”that can’t hurt at all”. I don’t want to say that this is never the case. However, there is a reason why children cry. That means that even if it wasn’t the pain, it might have been the shock or the anger that caused our child to cry. With sentences like this, we convey to our children that the feeling wasn’t right. No matter what it was. And that’s why they don’t cry anymore in these or similar situations. Our children develop different ways of responding to these situations. But of course, it is good to let our children show their feelings in their way. It can also harm self-image and self-esteem.


If your child isn’t crying, it’s nothing to worry about. However, suppressing feelings is not the best way to deal with your feelings. Here I advise that you get to the bottom of the cause, try to take your child seriously, and support them in finding a way for them to live out their feelings.

You may also like