Crèche and cry, here and there: exploring children’s agency in Romanian and Danish nurseries.

Hygum, C. U., Hygum, E.


The study investigates crying as an expression of young children's agency in kindergartens in Romania and Denmark. The research questions are: 1) When and how do children cry? 2) What do children achieve by crying? 3) How do staff react to children crying in these two countries?


In Denmark, children are less likely to use crying as a way of communicating because they are encouraged to be brave and actively build relationships with other children and adults. The staff are aware of the crying, but do not always react to it. In Romania, on the other hand, children cry more because kindergarten follows a structure where each child is in close contact with a single caregiver. Crying is often used to express dissatisfaction, anger, or sadness. The ‘right’ crying is even seen as a form of symbolic power that helps children manage emotions and limit anger-related behaviour. The researchers behind the study emphasise that the results apply to the specific kindergartens in Denmark and Romania that were investigated in the study.


The data material consists of observations of daily life in two Romanian and two Danish kindergartens, combined with semi-structured interviews with kindergarten staff and kindergarten coordinators in both countries. The researchers analysed kindergarten guidelines, building plans, maps, educational projects/programmes, weekly schedules, daily menus, parental information brochures, website information and cultural artifacts (toys, games, reading books, garden tools, etc.). A total of 26 full-day observations were made, where the researchers recorded the interaction between individual children (who were between nine months and two years old), kindergarten children peers and kindergarten staff.


Hygum, C. U. & Hygum, E. (2021). "Crèche and cry, here and there: exploring children’s agency in Romanian and Danish nurseries". Ethnography and Education, 16(3):327-342.