Feelings are an essential part of everyday life when a child is upset and hears “don’t cry” from an adult, it translates into ‘it is not okay to feel’ in a child’s mind, even when the tears are caused by something trivial or something that you deem to be unnecessary. Children need to know that the emotions they are feeling (despite whatever is causing them) are not unworthy. Children need to learn from a young age that feelings are okay and that it is okay to cry and be in touch with them.
Instead, try saying:
• “We’re on the same team. I will help you.”
• “I can see this is hard for you” – this acknowledges that you see and hear them
• “I understand you’re sad/disappointed/scared/anxious/happy and that’s okay” – let them know that emotions are okay
• “That was really sad/frustrating/disappointing” – help them to highlight what triggered their reaction
• “I love you. You are safe” – encourage a positive connection rather than a judgement
• “Would you like help/a break/or to try again?” – empower them to make the choice
• “I can hear you are crying, but I don’t know what you need. Can you help me understand?” – help them to practice explaining their emotions
• “I remember when you…” – Help them to recall a time when they felt happy and peaceful; this helps prepare their brain for rational thoughts
• “Let’s come up with a solution together” – Coming up with a solution that will help process their emotions teaches them how to look at the situation objectively and come up with possible solutions. Also, read our article “The Importance of Making Eye Contact with Your Children“.
Let’s help the next generation to build trust and respect for emotions and allow them to deal with them in a healthy and beneficial manner. It also sets you up for a relationship with your child where they feel open and able to come to you for help or guidance because they know that you won’t judge their emotions or reactions – just what every parent wants.
Also, watch our video “How to Discipline Your Child“.