We so want our children to be happy. It is so heart wrenching to see our child suffer. Dropping them off at preschool or school with tears running down their face, begging us to stay and being pulled away by the teacher.
When we hear our child crying, we have the instinct to fix the problem and end the crying as soon as possible.
We often try and distract our child out of their upsets with reasoning and logic.
“Don’t be sad, you’ll have fun and remember Billy is there. He really wants to play with you.”
Or we go straight into trying to make him happy and at the minimum stop the crying as quickly as possible.
“It’s OK. We’ll go and get ice-cream after school, shush Shush…”
or we might speak to the teacher to see how we can stop his upset and fix things so our child stops crying.
As an attentive parent, this is a natural response when we feel bad for our child being upset. And many of us take on the role as “The Fixer” by trying to make our children happy.
Let’s look at crying in a new way.
Crying is a good thing; it is our body’s way of letting go of upsets, worries, uneasiness and a whole host of emotions. It helps children adapt to things when things don’t go their way.
In fact, trying to stop our child from crying too soon stops them learning how to adapt to their situation.
Remember this: It’s not in our job description to make our children happy all the time.
So, what can we do?
Embrace the crying, and draw some comfort in the knowledge that it’s helping your child adapt. He knows just what he needs to calm down and to work through his upsets.
Your role is to offer support and understanding. Not to always fix his problem.
When we rush to our child and try and fix the problem, we’re sending a message that we don’t have faith in them to handle their own upsets.
By always rushing in we’re implying that they have to be happy and content all the time, that there is something wrong in being upset, that we can’t handle their crying.
Of course, we need to help our children and part of that is setting them up for success. In this case, by speaking to his key-worker and agree on the best way to handle the drop off will give your child support to a new routine.
Many children benefit from knowing step by step what’s going to happen during the day, reading books about going to school and having the same morning routine is reassuring.
So, let’s look at how we can support our children through their upsets using the Language of Listening® the 3-step coaching model I teach.
By SAYing WHAT YOU SEE® you are able to stay in the moment with your crying child and coach them through their own upset. Adding the STRENGTH allows your child to recognise his own greatness and shows him that he can handle his emotions.
It can sound like this:
SWYS: “Oh! Sweetie, you’re so upset, you really don’t want to go to preschool.”
Child: “Yes! And I’m NOT going.”
SWYS: “You really really don’t want to go; you’d much rather stay home with me.” Matching the child’s intensity of emotion.
Child: “Yes! I want to be with you!”
STRENGTH: “…You know just what you want. You’re sure you don’t want to go to school. And you know what you need to calm down. Crying is helping you calm down.”
SWYS: “Look! You’re now taking big breaths and the tears are going.”
STRENGTH: “You know just what to do to calm yourself.”
Allowing our children to cry proves to them that they can calm down and handle their upsets and that they can find ways which work to help them calm.
Over time you will begin to notice the length of time that your child cries shorten, as he quickly moves on to find other ways to calm himself.
These are some of the positive skills that our children can learn and use for life.
What a gift we can give our children. How amazing to know that they can calm down and that they will know just what they need to do it.
I’d love to hear how you get on implementing these tools and how it supports your child through their own upsets.