Rethinking crying

I know so far I’ve mainly posted about crafts, but recently I’ve been thinking over something else related to parenting: crying.

First off I should say that I aim to practice respectful, compassionate attachment parenting. So this is definitely not a post about crying it out (I’m very much against that practice).

I’m rather talking about how our society deals with tears. We seem so uncomfortable with negative emotions that whenever someone is sad, there’s a rush to end the sadness as quickly as possible (or at least end the parts we see).

I feel like this actually makes sadness last longer and possibly causes it to be stuffed down and internalized. When emotions get stuffed, they tend to come out in other ways (anger, distractibility, digestive issues, etc).

So, what does this have to do with parenting? I feel like the way we respond to our children’s sadness influences how they deal with difficult emotions in the long run.

It’s tricky because it’s always hard to see people you love in pain, but I feel like if we are able to be present and loving, while avoiding stopping the flood, we can teach them that sadness isn’t inherently bad, but rather something we all experience (ever been struggling with something difficult and someone, rather than empathizing, changes the subject, makes it about them, or tries to “cheer you up” when you just need to vent? Not helpful right?).

So how do I put this into practice? Well, with my 2 and a half year old, lately I’ve been shifting my approach. Rather than the shh shh shh as I hug her encouraging her to talk about what’s wrong, I instead still hug her, but sit with the tears for a little. I try to say things like, “you can cry as much as you need,” “I’m here,” and “x is really hard sometimes huh?” With x being any of the myriad things that are hard for 2 year olds. And then, when she’s feeling better, we talk about what made her upset.

And you know what’s funny? She actually seems to cry for shorter amounts of time when upset now.

Every kid is different for sure, but these are just some thoughts I had and wanted to share what’s working for us.

Hugs!

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