It’s Okay For Kids To Cry

For some reason, we have become terrified of our children having negative and unpleasant emotions. It is rooted in our beliefs of harming their psyches. We have identified the rigid structure and strong disciplinary methods of our own childhoods as being the root of all evil. We have gotten so used to blaming our parents for our adult difficulties that we are naturally drawn to practices that are completely opposite of what we grew up with.

The ultimate goal of parenthood is to help your child develop into a healthy, successful, and well-adjusted adult. This is something that is so obvious, but we overlook it all of the time.  I think we can get so hung up on the baby part that we forget the big picture. We are not trying to raise babies. We are trying to raise adults who can function in the world. In the real world, you don’t always get what you want, you have to take turns, you have to follow rules, and you experience unpleasant emotions.

Life is filled with adversity, disappointment, hurt, frustration, sadness, and pain. Teaching our children how to successfully maneuver through these difficult emotions starts when they are small.  Learning how to deal with negative emotions and deal with being upset is such a huge, valuable tool. It is certainly one I wish I had learned better in my own childhood. It would have helped me when I was an adult.

Many of us do everything we can to prevent negative emotions from occurring. If they are upset, we quickly jump to fix it. We give them what they want so they don’t start throwing a fit or to stop the fit they are having. Of course in the beginning and during the first year, this is exactly how it should be. But we should not still be functioning as if we are parenting an infant when our children are four.

In the grand scheme of things, we have a very short period of time to spend with our children as children. The rest of their time they will spend as adults living in the world. I don’t want to spend my time teaching my son how to be the best baby. I want to spend my time providing him with as much love as I can and equipping him with the tools he needs in the world.

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16 Responses to It’s Okay For Kids To Cry

  1. Marisa says:

    Yes!

  2. Mama Bear says:

    I like your remark that we aren’t trying to raise big babies, but mature adults. I read about some research that moms react differently to crying depending on how thier moms reacted to them-whether with irritation or love. If you feel loving even when your child is crying then you can assess if the crying is expressing genuine pain or is just a stress reliever or is an attempt at manipulation. No need to stop the crying, just different responses are best. I think if crying is just irritating, a mom might either shut down and ignore it or try to appease the child rather than teaching a bit of emotional intelligence.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Mama Bear. And sometimes you just need a good cry. Developing and fostering emotional intelligence is just as important as the other forms of intelligence, but often gets overlooked.

  3. Sara says:

    I love the fake cry. Are you crying or just trying to get your way? I have two drama queens. I could award oscars. The problem with crying is that it makes others uncomfortable. Crying is necessary, even in infants. I’ve seen parents trying to soothe newborns and ultimately overstimulate them so that they cry even more and can’t settle down until they pass out from crying and being soothed and bounced and overstimulated. Sometimes what a baby needs is a quiet room to cry for a few minutes to calm down and fall asleep. In some circles, this has coemto be seen as abusive, but I think that compulsively stimulating a baby (singing, rocking, etc.) can just keep a baby awake when they are exhausted.

  4. Mama Bear says:

    I guess I’m weak but I had to hold mine for the real crying, but I swear I just held them peacefully! My 13 year old daughter does pseudo-drama and I do pseudo-overreacting and we think we’re very funny:)
    We keep meaning to do it at the mall as a mini kind of performance art, but that’s such a long drive we forget by the time we’re in town.

  5. Mommy Psychologist says:

    I’m weak too then because I always hold for the real crying.

  6. misssrobin says:

    Beautiful post. One of the toughest lessons for me to learn as a parent was how to be okay with my kids’ negative emotions. I hurt with them and respect their feelings. I don’t try to fix them as much as I used to. They are 13-21 now, so most of their hurts are things I couldn’t fix anyway.

    One of my favorite quotes is: Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.

    I am trying to raise healthy adults. I have to remember that.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. mollie says:

    So true! Once I commented that one shouldn’t be worried about my tantruming son that didn’t get the toy he wanted but one should be worried about the quiet ones that get whatever they want whenever they want… :D

  8. Helene says:

    Couldn’t agree more, I have a 14 months old, and there’s a lot of “mirror emotion and let feel” going on right now… :-)

  9. Violina23 says:

    Thanks for posting this! I agree completely. My 2.5 year old is generally a well behaved little girl [for everyone else!], but we still have our moments of tantrums, whining, and OH DEAR GOD THE WHINING. I don’t intend to spank, and I try to reserve the yelling for dangerous situations when I need her to take notice (e.g. touching a hot stove, or running in the street), but it seriously tries my patience. It’s hard, but who said parenting was easy? Hopefully she’ll thank me later.

    One of my biggest pet peeves are people who cite the study that *excessive* crying in newborns/infants causes brain damage. First of all, nobody is talking about newborns and very young infants who cry out of need, not out of want. Second of all, the study talks about newborns who were left to cry for HOURS. Sorry, but letting my 15 month old (who doesn’t want to miss any of the action) blow off some steam in her crib for 5 minutes before she realizes that sleep is the preferable option is not killing brain cells. Instead, imaging the brain development that is occurring because she actually gets some sleep, and spends the rest of her day well-rested and alert! ;-)

    I’m not always my daughter’s favorite person because I don’t give in to her every want and desire, but everyone else always tells me how good of a girl she is, so hopefully I’m doing something right!

    BTW, I’m currently reading 1-2-3-Magic — I like the idea, but I haven’t been able to consistently execute it, and consistency is key to the idea. Argh!

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