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What Is a "Cry-Baby"?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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"Cry-baby" is an idiom used to refer to someone who frequently and easily cries due to excessive emotional sensitivity. The crying reaction may or may not be warranted depending on the individual situation or set of circumstances. This overly dramatic trait can have any number of underlying causes, and someone deemed a "cry-baby" can face various social difficulties as a result. The expression is generally spoken as an admonition to the extra-sensitive person to imply that he or she needs to learn to toughen up and develop better coping skills for processing everyday life's predictable challenges as well as disappointments.

English sayings such as "cry-baby" are nearly always spoken in a negative context, often to point out the behavior of someone who indulges in what's considered unnecessary complaining and crying over circumstances that usually cannot be changed or controlled. The meanings of idioms in this sense can denote immaturity and poor emotional intelligence. Psychology experts who study this kind of persistent "cry-baby" behavior often have different ideas about whether it stems from inborn mental traits or from early life experiences; many believe it is a combination of both in most instances.

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Someone who is often subject to these kinds of emotional displays is often thought to suffer from negative internal dialogue and a diminished ability to effectively process his or her feelings. He or she may sometimes complain about trivial matters in order to deflect inner focus away from these kinds of problems. Much of a cry-baby's most difficult behavior is not done out of malice or a deliberate attempt to alienate others; he or she most often simply lacks the ability or self-awareness to react in a more positive or productive manner.

Personal relationships and even career paths can sometimes be especially trying for a person with a high level of emotional sensitivity, and hearing the saying "cry-baby" can usually do little to help matters. The good news is that this label is generally not a life sentence; anyone with the initiative to alter the way he or she reacts to bad experiences can do so with some behavior modification exercises. When used consistently, these exercises can often help increase self-confidence and diminish the feelings of persecution that the overly-sensitive person often feels. Many emotionally sensitive individuals are able to successfully get in touch with their feelings and reactions to others' feedback in order to overcome the negative "cry-baby" label.

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