It literally crushes my soul when I see my 3 and a half year old crying, well most of the times when it is for a genuine reason. But at other times, when it is for no reason in particular, I often end up saying “Stop crying, that’s enough!” That’s just because I assume that there’s no good reason for her to cry right now. Now, who am I to assume that?
Crying is a powerful mode of communication. It’s a sign of one being hurt in some way. It’s a feeling and ideally feelings should not be judged as being right or wrong. Genuine or not, we have all said “Stop crying” in response to a crying kid, believing that it’s the quickest way to make that emotional response go away. But is it really? Is it really healthy for kids to hold back their tears ? In my experience, it’s not. Instead, I simply allow it to flow and say a couple of things while my kid vents out her emotions. Here’s what works for me:
“Come, let me give you a hug.”
Sometimes, a simple holding of hands or a tight hug is all that my kid needs to calm down for starters. Investing quality time in the form of a gentle, intimate touch has scientifically proven to release “positive hormones” and induce a feeling of being cared for. TLC (Tender Loving Care) Therapy!
“I’m sorry you feel sad but it’s going to be okay.”
There’s nothing wrong in feeling hurt or upset. IT’S NORMAL! They are strong emotions and could lead to a stronger sense of discomfort. And stepping out of ones comfort zone can be a memorable learning experience. Learning to handle disappointments is a critical life skill and as a parent, I take these moments as opportunities to let my kid know that crying (although distressing) is just “Step 1” in the whole process of bouncing back from disappointments. Feel that emotion, accept the situation and work through it. This too shall pass!
“I am right here, with you. Let’s talk about it.”
Knowing that we are not alone in times of crisis, can be a very uplifting feeling for our spirits. Crisis for one, may not be a crisis for another. It’s only a matter of perspective and experience. Letting my kid know that she’s in a safe space with me and we can get over anything together can work magic. I respect her state of crisis (whatever it may be) and help her to ease that feeling of being overwhelmed with emotions. Gradually, as the emotional cloud clears and the heart settles down, the mind starts to work it’s logic to understand and overcome the crisis at hand. EQ CHECK, IQ CHECK! Now, let’s talk about it.
“Up for a Baby Mama story?”
Walking my kid through my personal experiences as a kid fascinates her in a very obvious way. Stories (real or not) with real emotions always tend to touch her heart as she resonates with the experience. More real life characters (that she knows of) makes it all even more intriguing for her. What one did, what one said, how one felt, how one helped, makes it all even more real for her. Just knowing that her mom went through a similar “crisis” and came through just fine, gives her a sense of hop and confidence that she can do it too. This bond I share with her also helps her to pick out some strategies from my experiences to overcome her current state of distress. She learns from my life stories (and even mistakes) and there’s no better teacher than life itself.
“What do you want to do next?”
Once the problem has been accepted and understood, CHOP CHOP! Let’s move on with it… Do something that makes us feel better and move on with the happy life that we are blessed with. I suggest and then she gets to choose what’s gonna make her feel good. Not acknowledging the problem and suppressing the feelings that go along, is just as unhealthy as is to keep pondering over the problem and the accompanying feelings. Moving on… is also a life skill that’s hard to cultivate but necessary for survival in the mad mad world out there.
As hard a work as these may be, all these efforts do help me in diffusing the state of crisis for my kid faster than saying “Enough crying”. It shouldn’t be about being in control in the power struggle. Feelings can’t be stopped, emotions can’t be enough-ed. It’s about preparing my kid for the larger crisis or disappointments in later life where throwing a tantrum or simply crying isn’t going to be enough to overcome struggles. It’s about empowering my kid to realistically expect hurdles, confidently manage situations, and maturely tackle the the bigger challenges in her beautiful life ahead – physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. BIG PICTURE, is what I like to call it!