My Emotional Girl

My Emotional Girl 01 by Happy Mum Happy ChildAfter quite an experience at the Kindy pickup today, I thought I would seek some advice from you guys – see what you think.

I’ll set the scene: Every Monday, the Kindy class goes to a farm for the morning.  This is where they get to do farm activities like help milk the cows, feed the lambs, feed the horses, and just have fun outdoors.  Us parents drop them off there at 8.30am, and they walk back to the Kindy from the farm at about 11.30am.  It’s a pretty full on time, and as one of the Mum’s who has helped volunteer, I can attest to the fact that it is TIRING.

I always pick her up from Kindy, and am often there earlier than the required pickup time, just so she doesn’t freak out.

Today, I thought “I’ll meet them at the playground”, which is a stop on their way back to Kindy.  My 18 month old was happily playing, when I started to see the kids coming across the field.  Unfortunately my girl saw me first and burst into tears.  And not just quiet tears, I’m talking full on screaming.  A meltdown.

The teachers then acknowledged she needed to go first to get to me, which she did.  And then she proceeded to cry all the way back to Kindy.

To say I was embarrassed is beyond an understatement.

This sort of thing happens ALL THE TIME (not just on Farm days).  Over little things too.  When she’s not getting her way, tears.  When she thinks I’m doing something I shouldn’t be, tears.

Often I pick her up from Kindy and my first words to her will be “it’s ok Chloe, you don’t need to cry” … this is said the moment she sees me.  To try and mitigate any tears.

Some of this, I realise, is all a part of being a toddler / pre-schooler.  And possibly being tired.  That I get.  It’s just the constant emotion / flow of tears that I don’t understand and don’t know how to deal with.

I used to say “it’s ok Chloe, let’s breathe through it together”, and I would get her to try and focus on my breathing and help her.

However, when it happens somewhere public like Kindy, my first response is usually to say “that’s enough, you don’t need to cry”, and be more abrupt and have anger in my voice.

A lot of people have told me that she is more emotional than a lot of children, and that they don’t know what to do in my shoes… so this is me seeking your advice – Have you guys had any experience with a super emotional toddler / pre-schooler?  Do you have any tips for me?  Truly appreciate anything at this point.

Also, as a side note, I do realise this is not about me.  This is about my girl learning to deal with her emotions.  I need some pointers to help me help her … if that makes sense.  The whole getting embarrassed thing, well that’s something I just need to get over HAHA

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Have you ever heard of the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Child?’ we found it to be sooo helpful in understanding our son’s temperament, and as I read through your description, I wondered if your wee girl may fit the ‘highly sensitive’ description also. Here’s a link to a brief description:
If that resonates with you, I would recommend the book- it changed the way we parented our boy, and the emotional outbursts are now few and far between. 🙂


Oh my gosh I can so relate! I try to find out why they are upset, let them know it is okay to feel that way, then reassure them and ask them what they would like or need to stop the tears. Sometimes all they need is a mummy cuddle, other times they need a little more encouragement to stop the tears.
Good luck!!


Sorry to throw links at you here, it just so happens I have looked at a lot of stuff to do with this subject thanks to our little man, but I found this article REALLY helpful, not only for my son but also for me! is not to say that an emotional child is always anxious, they are definitely not, but kids who are emotional can get a little lost when they are figuring out their big feelings)


I think its a case of understanding what the tears are about. So asking her why she is crying then coming up with a strategy for next time. So if she cries when seeing you after kindy, is it just relief mum has come back? If so talk about “you know mummy is going to come back”
My daughter is 7 now and has got more emotional as she has gotten older and this is what we do. Why the emotions. Its OK to feel them and appropriate ways to deal with them. Although tears are sometimes the only option!
I understand the frustration, many times I’ve said “that’s enough” as I just don’t know why but that’s my issue not hers.
We have got better and her confidence in explaining has improved which help us a lot as parents. Her emotions really took off after my 6 month old was born but again we have talked through this and things have started to improve again.


It sounds like you are doing all the right things and reassuring her but sometimes they need something put in place to stop the behaviour.
A simple thing to do is to prepare her for what is going to happen each day. For example… “Today mummy is going to pick you up from kindy. Today you are going to see mummy and not cry.” I would tell her a couple of times in the morning and then again before you drop her off. You might want to change the wording too what works for you. I would also talk to the kindy teachers and see what they have to say. If you can get them on board get them to repeat the same mantra during the session and just before you arrive for pick up. It might not work at first but hang in there. Lots of praise when she tries or is able to do it.
She is probably trying so hard at kindy that she sees you and it is all on.


I have a thought. Just accept her they way she is, and teach her how to talk about her feelings by describing them for her “are you feeling sad because it’s home time ?” Or “wow you really missed mummy”. It’s healthy to have emotions, and it’s great parenting to acknowledge children’s feelings without trying to fix them.
It’s good for everyone’s emotional health to have their feelings acknowledged by others. You might find as she develops more complex language she’ll tell you what’s up rather than have a huge outburst, or maybe just have slightly smaller outbursts.


I have no advice to add, just wanted to say thanks for raising the question. My boy is 10 months and from 3 months has gotten very stressed about new people and places. I suspect some of the book & website recommendations from your readers are going to be useful to me in the next year or two!


Have you heard of PDA – psychological demand avoidance. My son craves control and routine – at the age of 18 mths he has showen signs of having PDA. I only found out about it 2 months ago and it has seriously changed the way we interact together. With you showing up when you’re not supposed to and she has a meltdown sounds just like what my son does when his routine is affected. Perhaps have a read up about it, the website has fab info on it.


Could it just be her way of telling that she missed you?
I know (I do!!!) loads of tears are overbearing sometimes but I think kids don’t always have any other means of expressing themselves, and at least your child doesn’t bury her emotions inside of her but feels she can trust you enough to be sad. I think you might have responded in the way she needs, to be there for her, and the older she grows, she will grow out of some of it.
Kids are different, I know there is a huge difference between my kids eg in how easily they adjust to changes. The other one has been ok with staying with baby sitters from a very young age, the other one was ok with that only at the age of 3 or so (and they are in daycare, so they he been away from me).

Pauline Young

I find in these situations using a skill called “reflective listening” works wonders. It results in the child feeling heard and knowing that their feelings are valid. This of course leads to self confidence and increased self esteem. Firstly reflective listen the emotion by saying “I can see you are upset right now”. Give time for your child to respond (listen to their non verbal response eg: they nod/there is an intake of breath/the volume of their cry slows down or gets softer) Let them know you want to help “I would like to help so we can both be happier.”. Again get their non verbal response…then let them know what will happen next “Let’s sit over here/get into the car/get home first and together we will work something out. Does that sound good?”. This works really well for younger children. For older ones the techniques are slightly different.
Pauline Young


Another thing is that in her age thinking is still magical and he most likely is not able to separate her (irrational ) fears from reality. Also, her concept of time is still quite different from the ones adults have, so for you to always be on time may not mean she is able to keep that thought for several hours.

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