Q:  I have a child in my 4-year-old class who is constantly crying. She'll stop briefly at times and then gets going again. I have tried comforting her and ignoring the behavior, but I am at the end of my rope! It is disruptive to the other children. What do you suggest?

We have all experienced the child who cries and can't be comforted with a lap cuddle, followed by help getting into an activity. I would always begin with these two things, though. Some children don't yet have enough sense of self to feel like a whole person if separated from their parent. This is a matter of emotional maturation. Usually, time will solve it.

Meanwhile, it helps to enlist the group in providing comfort.  With the distressed child on your lap, say, "Anna is very upset. You are kind kids, what can you do to help her feel happier?" Compliment all suggestions. Summarize, adding your own ideas after anyone who wants to offer an idea has done so. These can include:

  • Hug her.
  • Hold her hand and take her to play something fun or to do an important job.
  • Share an extra snack with her.
  • Show her a picture of her parent and remind her that she'll be reunited soon.
  • Keep her company when she goes to the bathroom.
  • Sing to her.

Always partner with parents. What facts, thoughts, and assistance can they contribute?