Kids cry. A lot. Particularly when they are little as it is the easiest way for them to express their BIG emotions.
As a parent it can be hard to deal with all the crying. Particularly if you have a very sensitive child who seems to cry about everything. It can be exhausting and sometimes we just want it to stop.
But is telling our kids to simply “Stop Crying” the answer? Should we be teaching them to harden up?
This “tough love” approach is something many of us are familiar with from our own childhood and I cringe at the memory of saying “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” to my small child. The words came unbidden to my lips, like some sort of pre-programed script.
Because, the reality is, if a child is crying, it is likely they already do have something to cry about. Whether it’s a reason that makes sense to us as adults is kind of irrelevant.
For children, little things can seem like big issues. Crying because they are hungry or because they dropped their favourite toy or because Paw Patrol got turned off are actually all pretty valid reasons in the eyes of a little person.
Letting our children feel their emotions, validating them and helping them cope with them will help build their resilience.
Studies show that children with parents who are nurturing and respond to children’s emotions in a comforting manner are more well-adjusted than those with parents who react harshly or negatively. Children with parents who punish them or tell them they are overreacting when they get upset are more likely to have problems regulating their emotions down the track.
As with everything, it is our job to teach our children how to process their emotions in a healthy way.
Telling them its ok to be sad and that you are there for them will make your child feel supported and valued. And the bonus is that children who feel this way are more likely to be confident and less clingy down the track.
To be clear, being nurturing and responsive to your child’s emotions doesn’t mean wrapping them in cottonwool or pandering to them as soon as they make a whimper.
Letting your child experience the ups and downs of life while guiding them to work through their problems is the best way to help your child deal with their big emotions.