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The Boy Who Cried Over Everything (on dealing with a crying child)

December 30, 2011

One of the greatest dilemmas we have faced as parents so far has been how to handle a crying child.  “Comfort the child.” Seems obvious.  But there is crying and then there is C.R.Y.I.N.G. We have one child who has perfected the art of opening his mouth wider than you thought humanly possible, throwing his head back,and producing a siren-like wail–over any and (sometimes) everything.  Not quite enough butter on your bread? WAILING! Pulled the wrong crayon out of the crayon box?  SCREAMING! Toilet didn’t flush on the first try? HYSTERICAL SOBBING!

This kind of angry crying can quickly become a habit of being.  Surely it is a parent’s job to do their best to help a child learn how to handle their emotions and develop good habits, but when it comes to crying, many of us get nervous. Doesn’t a child need to express himself? Is it okay to tell a child he shouldn’t cry?  You can’t make them stop crying, and if you can’t win the battle should you even try?

Most of all, we fear MESSING THEM UP.

I rarely slip into professional mode these days, but for one paragraph I will write as a child psychologist rather than parent. The idea of catharsis—that angry feelings are something you need to get out (by screaming, or hitting something, etc.)—is outdated. Recent studies suggest that catharsis just leads to a state of greater and greater agitation (seen in the temper tantrum). The best way to deal with anger is learning to calm. And it is far far easier to learn good habits as a child than to try as an adult to undo years of practicing otherwise.

But HOW do you help a child whose crying is out of control?

Dr. Maria Montessori said of children, “Their play is their work and their work is their play.” Children learn best through play and through story. This is mostly what happens in therapy with children (play therapy, narrative therapy, etc), but I believe it is more effectively done at home than in an office.

Which brings me to the book.

My sister Betsy, observing our crier, has written a book. Dan has illustrated it. We have read our copy over and over and over, and the twins argue nightly about who gets to sleep with it. The book has become a part of our conversation. Just today when a child, upon accidentally dropping a toy in the toilet (?) opened her mouth to scream, I asked, “What would Murray do?”

She stopped mid-wail—”Just ask mom for help!” Brilliant.

Our criers have come a long way, baby. So far, in fact, that I don’t even have a picture of the main crier crying to post. And I was unwilling to take Betsy’s advice and pinch him to get one.

But without further ado, here it is, The Boy Who Cried Over Everything, available on in paperback and for kindle. From our crier to yours:

The Boy Who Cried Over Everything

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Grammie B permalink
    December 30, 2011 5:06 am

    This is the best book review I have ever read.

  2. December 30, 2011 1:38 pm

    And this is the best comment I have ever read.

  3. December 31, 2011 9:32 pm

    Wow! Congrats to you all! This is great. Just let Dan know to call me if ya’all need any help with publicity. 🙂
    I wish you all luck on the birthing of yet another ‘baby’ and all the best in your endeavor…

  4. January 5, 2012 1:28 pm

    Lucy! Congratulations to you (for being the best advertiser) and Dan and Betsy for writing a book! I saw this post last week and ordered the book right away. Bjorn and I figured…if we went to college with the author and illustrator of a children’s book, we would be honored to own it! So it came in the mail yesterday, I read it to our kids right away, and they all LOVED it and asked to read it multiple times! And we talked about good times to cry and not-so-good times to cry. It’s a very uplifting and encouraging book. This morning, Kristiana woke up and immediately asked, “Can we read Murray?” So we have read it twice today already at 7:27 a.m. Such a wonderful book with a great moral, and awesome retro pictures! Please give Dan and Betsy our warmest congrats, and that we are expecting many more in the “Murray and Ike” series!


  1. Early Reviews… « The Boy Who Cried Over Everything

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