Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 67, Issue 7, pp 412-421

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Crying in Middle Childhood: A Report on Gender Differences

  • Francine C. JellesmaAffiliated withResearch Institute Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam Email author 
  • , Ad J. J. M. VingerhoetsAffiliated withClinical and Developmental Psychology, Tilburg University


The aims of this study were (1) to confirm gender differences in crying in middle childhood and (2) to identify factors that may explain why girls cry more than boys in a Dutch sample (North Holland and Utrecht). We examined 186 children’s (age: 9–13 years) self-reports on crying, catharsis, seeking support for feelings, and internalizing feelings. Girls reported a greater crying frequency and crying proneness, and more emotional and physical catharsis after crying. In addition, they more frequently sought support for feelings and more often experienced sadness and somatic complaints than boys. Seeking help for negative feelings and the experience of sadness and somatic complaints were positively associated with crying frequency and crying proneness. Emotional catharsis was positively linked to crying proneness. Support was found for the potential mediating role of sadness and somatic complaints with respect to the gender difference in crying frequency and for the potential mediating role of emotional catharsis and somatic complaints for crying proneness. This study demonstrates that gender differences in crying frequency already exist in middle childhood and the findings suggest a linkage between these gender differences in crying and psychosocial factors.


Tears Crying Children Emotion expression Gender Development