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What’s She So Hysterical About Anyway?

What’s She So Hysterical About Anyway?

The Frustrating Effort in Getting a Child to Stop Crying.

A parent will often find themselves in a rush and under pressure to get places or do something. At times it is quite frustrating when the only thing that is holding us back is our child making a fuss about something or other. It can happen quite often that a child makes a huge fuss, screaming and crying over what seems to us like a really pointless issue.

What’s all the Fuss About Already!!!

A typical example would be something that happened while we (me and my family) were on the way out to the zoo yesterday. As we arrived at the train station, my 3 year old Miri became quite hysterical about the idea of going on a train. She would not hear of the idea of stepping on a train.

“Don’t Worry”,  Just Didn’t Help

Seeing her scared, my other kids tried to do what many others in such typical situations would do. They tried to comfort her and tell her “it’s not scary, don’t worry, etc”.  Of course it did not help her a bit and she carried on with her hysterics.

Before going on to tell you how I went about this situation, I’d like to point out that the attitude and the few words used to resolve this is really the basis of most of my work with children.

Gathering Information is Always Key

It is my opinion that the reason why many children have a tough time in general, is simply because none of the adults around them bother to ask them appropriate questions.  It is quite amazing how some adults in the professional helping field working with children just assume things about them, purely based on (‘supposed’) instinctive feelings rather than on actual information provided by the child.

Here is what happened next…

(PACE) As I saw Miri standing there crying, I went up to her. I picked her up and gently said “You don’t want to go on the scary train, do you Miri?”  She nodded in full agreement.

(Pace) I continued and said “We hate to go on ‘scary’ trains, right?”

At which point she said something quite interesting…“I am scared to go on the train with the monkeys and the lions”…

That is when I understood what it was all about.

It Suddenly Clicked – Now it all made sense

Young Miri had assumed that the zoo was on the train. It suddenly dawned on me, how terribly scary the thought of going on such a train must have been for her. Obviously, we had never bothered to explain to Miri, who had hardly (if ever) been on a train or to the zoo, that the train would just be our courier to getting to the zoo and was not the zoo itself. Of course, I then went on to explain that the train would not have any animals on board.  She stopped crying and relaxed immediately.

This approach of working with the child to get better information is really most essential in any kind of therapeutic work with children.

Blaming it on Being a ‘Psychological Problem’ is Hardly Useful

In most cases when I see children with fear related issues in my clinic in Beit Shemesh, it’s simply a case of adults around them not understanding the need to gather the correct information.  They often just assume that the child has some kind of psychological problem and let the Therapist work out the ‘psychological problem’.

In truth most children that walk through my clinic rarely have the psychological issues they have been labeled with. They have simply never been spoken to in the language of their reality.

So here are the steps laid out for you…

Steps You Can Take – When Your Child is Crying Hysterically

1. Cease arguing with your child when they are afraid or are hysterical (not speaking about tantrums now…)

So when your child is afraid, do not say to them, there is nothing to worry about, etc. As in this case with Miri, there was definitely something very big worrying her. In her mind, she was about to confront lions and monkeys.

2. Pace your child’s feelings and (if possible) find a way and reason to agree with them on their fear.

3. Wait for the information, or (if they are older) simply ask the child straight out…”What are you afraid of?”  Ask for specifics.

4. Expect the child to tell you about the strangest reason why they are scared. Take them seriously.

5. At times, you may find that you are actually afraid of the same thing that they are…In that case, you should definitely not argue with your child’s fear.

Having this kind of approach with your child will create a really amazing relationship between the two of you…Your child will finally feel understood by an adult and more important than anything, they can now trust you.


  1. Awesome article- As mothers we sometimes think we know it all- thanks for reminding us to simply ask the child.

    • Thanks Lottie

  2. Thanks for adressing a very important issue regarding children. Ask questions, be curious, understand that when a child is frustrated or angry it is really a big cry for help. Be a supportive adult and never think a child is trying to deliberately punish you or manipulate you. They are merely finding ways and strategies to survive with the resourses awalable to them. The best thing you can do is to step up and be a supportive adult for your children. Children will normally do anything to cooperate with the parents and if they don´t you can be sure that their bancaccount for cooperation is empty and they need support, understanding and trust to fill it up again. 🙂

    • Yes Aja, so true. Understandably many find it frustrating trying to communicate with children but of course the first thing an adult needs to do to be able to effectively communicate with a child is understand that a child has a very different reality than we adults do. What’s remarkable is, we ourselves were once children and somehow we’ve completely forgotten what it was like.

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