How to Respond to Children That Cry (And ‘Stop Crying’ is Not One of Them)
The saying “Children should be seen, and not heard” is one that many of us are familiar with as it may have been uttered by an adult when we were a child.
Thankfully over the years, the saying has been incorporated less in the way we raise our children. While there is a time for children to be quiet and respectful, they are also human and need to communicate freely as part of their development.
Part of that communication is when they cry. A child that cries can stir up many a reaction in us as parents, depending on the situation.
Kids will cry because they hurt themselves while playing, or because their sibling started playing with a toy they wanted first. Sometimes they cry because they want attention or haven’t received what they want so they will cry until they get it. And in these circumstances, as parents, it can be easy to say ‘stop crying’. Especially if you’ve had enough of their persistence.
There are bountiful posts online on how to deal with children that cry, but none are as more helpful as the one shared by LifeHacker Australia, offering the advice shared by Sara, a mother to four, with a master’s degree in clinical psychology and the creative behind the blog Happiness is Here.
Her viral post has given parents an alternative response to children crying.
Sara explains, “One day they will know how to deal with their feelings and express them at times that adults consider ‘appropriate’, but the way we support the development of emotional regulation is by empathy and understanding, not silencing.”
Even if the situation is trivial, it’s important for parents to empathise with their kids to teach them how to manage their feelings.
“Children are looking for empathy and understanding,” adds Sara, “If they don’t get it, they will keep trying.”
So how is a parent to react to their child’s cries?
Sara offers these suggested responses (you can read the whole ten here).
“It’s okay to be sad.”
“This is really hard for you.”
“I hear you.”
“I will help you work it out.”
Kids need to get their emotions out. Telling them to keep it inside is telling them their feelings don’t matter and as adults, we know there are consequences to bottling our emotions in.
Helping our kids to manage their emotions is a challenging task because we find it hard to manage our own at times because of stress and exhaustion.
But making an effort to empathise with your child while they cry will generally shorten their crying episode and it will give long term gains where your child will be able to deal appropriately with their feelings.
How do you respond to your children’s crying? Have you used any of these responses with your own children? How did your child respond?
Sara share’s some great insights into raising children on her blog. You can check it out here.