• Written by Carly Osborn, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Adelaide
Most people cry when they're feeling sad, or when they are having big feelings. from www.pixabay.com , CC BY

If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au.


What makes us cry? – Claudia, age 7.5, Victoria.


Hi Claudia. Thank you for this very sensible question.

As you know, crying is something everyone does sometimes. Sometimes we get teary because our bodies are trying to clean a bit of dirt out of our eyes. But that’s not really crying, is it? Crying has something to do with our emotions.

There’s a connection between the part of our brain that feels emotions, and the ducts in our eyes where tears come out - so when we have a big feeling, we cry.

Doctors of medicine could tell you more about that. But I’m a doctor of another subject – the history of emotions. I learn about why people cry for different reasons, and it’s my job to compare today with a long time ago.


Read more: Curious Kids: Why do tears come out of our eyes when we cry?


In Australia today, most kids cry when they’re feeling sad, whether they’re boys or girls. But once those kids become teenagers, boys seem to cry less often than girls do. This isn’t because boys have different brains or tear ducts than girls. It’s mostly because many Australian boys think crying is a bit embarrassing.

Maybe they’ve been told boys don’t cry, or teased by their friends if they cry at school.

In fact, it is very normal for boys to cry. And crying hasn’t always been seen as embarrassing or uncool.

The history of crying

About 500 years ago in England, crying was seen as really cool! One of the most famous stories at the time was about King Arthur.

King Arthur was a big crier. Wikimedia

He was a great hero, and a lot of boys wanted to be like him. According to books and poems written at the time, King Arthur cried a lot. Crying showed everybody he had very strong, true feelings. Back then, people thought this made him a great man, and the lords and ladies in his court cried in public too.

Crying around the world

Why we cry can also depend on where we live, and what our family is like.

If you live in a country where it’s normal to express a lot of feelings in public, such as America, you are more likely to cry about things.

If you live in a country where people don’t usually make a big show of how they feel, you probably won’t cry as much, even if you’re feeling sad on the inside.

For example, in Japan, for a long time people tried not to cry. But lately in Japan, people are changing their minds about crying. Books and movies that are very sad are becoming popular. There are even crying clubs, where you can watch a sad movie with other people, have a good cry, and go home feeling better because you let out a lot of big feelings!

The same goes for families: if everyone at your house likes to share how they’re feeling, and isn’t embarrassed about crying or laughing or shouting or dancing, then you’ll probably cry whenever you feel like it.

But if the people in your family don’t usually show how they feel, then you will also learn to keep your feelings inside and not let them show by crying.

We cry to show our feelings

As you can see in these examples, crying isn’t just something we do by ourselves. Quite often, crying is a way for us to show other people how we feel.

When you cry, your parents, teachers or friends know that you’re having a big feeling. Then they can help you feel better with a hug, or a talk about your feelings.

So why do we cry?

Well, partly because our bodies are made that way. But also because crying is how people around us show their feelings, and we learn to show our feelings the same way. Crying helps us share and care.

And I think that’s a wonderful thing.


Read more: Curious Kids: why can’t we do whatever we want?


Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au

Carly Osborn has previously held a postdoctoral research fellowship in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. She has also previously received several small grants for research and travel from independent and scholarly bodies.

Authors: Carly Osborn, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Adelaide

Read more http://theconversation.com/curious-kids-why-do-we-cry-119814

COVID-19 patients who undergo surgery are at greatly increased risk of dying following surgery

Patients undergoing surgery after contracting coronavirus are at greatly increased risk of death following surgery, a new global study published in The Lancet reveals. Researchers from the interna...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Painting Laminated Doors: Tips for Professional & Long-Lasting Results

Planning and Preparation Planning and preparation are crucial steps when you’re looking to paint laminated doors. Different factors have to be looked into. Are your laminated doors still i...

News Company - avatar News Company

Cleaning Tips for Kitchen Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets take a lot of abuse every day. They get accidentally kicked, they get splattered with grease, and they get opened using dirty hands. After a while, all that accumulated dir...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Ultimate Guide to Air Conditioning Service

When it’s scorching hot outside, the last thing you’d want is for your air conditioner to break down. To prevent this, it’s important to schedule your unit for regular maintenance and inspecti...

News Company - avatar News Company

Styling your home with Porter’s new Capsule Collection

Introducing Porter’s Paints Capsule Collection: Jono Fleming’s living room transformation and styling secrets revealed Introducing colour on to your walls is an exciting first step for a...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

All About Coverage Under Plant And Equipment Insurance

Many general insurance companies usually offer plant and equipment insurance. The insurance plans offered by different companies can fulfil the requirements of both tradesmen and contractors. Wh...

Daisy Bell - avatar Daisy Bell

Car Experts Reveal the Secrets How to Test Drive Cars Like a Pro

Cars have become more of a necessity than a fad. Especially during this quarantine period where public transportation is risky, you need a personal vehicle to run errands. Why not look for Mitsubishi ...

News Company - avatar News Company

A Guide to Buy Home Appliances on Budget

A new home comes up with the need for new appliances, but where should one begin? Check our list that lets you find what you need first. Congratulations on getting your new dream home! If this is you...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Create A Legal Will Online

A will is an essential legal document that clearly states the desires of someone after the person passes away. With a will, you can successfully choose the beneficiaries of your properties and e...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion