My granddaughter is forced to stop crying any time she cries by her step dad.

Is that healthy?

She just turned 4.

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    Hi Wendy, and welcome to Parenting! I think we're going to need a few more details to help you answer the question. Is this only when she misbehaves, or any time she cries like when she hurts herself or cannot do something she wants to do? Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 18:06
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    And what do you mean by 'forced'?
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 18:10
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    I don't think you can force a 4 year old to stop crying. You can refuse to react to it. Personally, I tell my 4 year old to knock it off if she's crying for no good reason, like she wants to stay up till midnight and cries cause it's bed time. I kind of casually slip in a "knock it off, it's bedtime" but not angrily or in a way that calls for further outburst. She's pretty good about doing it or toning it down. If she's hurt I don't try to get her to stop with something like this. I don't get the impression I'm teaching her to stuff emotions away or anything
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 22:42

4 Answers 4


It's impossible to answer because there are two sides to the question.

From the child's side...with preschoolers there are so many different cries. A few examples: I want it my way. I'm tired/cranky. I'm scared. I'm sick. I'm upset (small thing). I'm upset (big thing). I don't like you/trust you. I cry because it's a habit.

Since this is a partial list, does he really do this every time or just with certain cries? If you cannot discern the differences and crying is just crying to you, you have some learning to do.

From the stepdad's side...if the approach is truly "one size fits all" he has some learning to do. This situation could be a parenting deficit or he could be correctly discerning a forced or manipulative cry, which can be dealt with.

Too many possibilities to guess. I'd look for answers to these kinds of questions (below), then re-post the question with more detail so we can help.

  • Does stepdad demonstrate able parenting other than this?
  • Does stepdad have reasoning for this response?
  • How is she with mom? How does mom handle the crying?
  • Is this with only certain crying circumstances?
  • Does it appear the girl uses crying as a tool?
  • If there are other children, is crying handled the same way?
  • How frequently do you see this?

We hope to hear more from you soon!


Nai's answer is head-on with helping her find out WHY she is crying. She is crying for a reason, but she may not fully know what the reason is yet. Once she understands, a lot of the pressure that made her cry may already be gone.

In addition, don't just make her stop, but offer alternatives. If she cries because of frustration, helping her find out what the frustration is may ALREADY help.
Also, do not forget: sometimes, you just have to cry. Crying is a perfectly natural reaction, telling her that ALL crying is bad sounds dangerous to me. Crying when your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up, because your beloved pet died, or perhaps even someone close to you? That is normal, so do not ban crying!


You would probably not have done things this way with your child.

You're in a difficult situation, though, because (I assume) you're not one of the primary caregivers.

I think the best you can do is maintain open lines of communication with the parents, and build a strong relationship with your granddaughter.


Being forced not-to-cry is not a good idea for 4yr old girl. Just let her cry, if her step-daddy do not allow her to do so. Pls take her in private to cry and stop when she's okay. Forcing is not good because of Throat, and Eye. She is being forced and she had to force again to her throat and eye to stop crying.

Should let her cry in bathroom or outside of the house alone. When she gets back, explain her about the situation happened, make her understand for the reasons that make her cry, but also say to stay strong.

I cried alot too when I was young, actually, still do. But always remember how my family members told me the reasons of situation happened. Then I understand back to it, and make myself not to cry. It feels better than being forced.

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    Nai, can you link to some medical evidence that "Forcing is not good because of Throat, and Eye" ?
    – A E
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:37
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    Huh, I can't seem to find any sources that say it's bad for you. There are tons of sites that give advice on how to make yourself stop though Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 21:18
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    He says dry it up now. Ive seen him stop her for being overwhelmed with emotion when she saw me first time in a while and when she was scared at her first TBall game. Turned my stomach Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 21:57
  • Im so worrried he will cause her to hold everything in Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 21:58
  • @WendyMNnWendyMann Maybe add some more details like that to the question. imho (In My Humble Opinion) it's better to let her express her emotions, but it's a delicate thing to advise others on parenting. It'd be good to be armed with some medical opinions and find a delicate way to present them.
    – drevicko
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 4:38

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