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-   -   responses to crying (http://www.mothering.com/forum/36-gentle-discipline/54892-responses-crying.html)

chapulina 04-17-2003 11:04 AM

Hello all,

Just wanting to know what others think about this response... a 5 year old remarked to my crying dd (13mon), "that's not a good reason to cry.." sounding as if he's heard that told to him before.

Since then, I have heard numerous parents respond to their crying toddlers with the exact response - "that's not a good reason to cry". Granted, there are various reasons for crying; some needing immediate response and others not so immediate. My first inclination is that something seems not quite right about this answer, but I just don't know why. I am interested in your opinions...

Lucky Charm 04-17-2003 11:36 AM

I would agree. my first instinct is that something is wrong with that response, and sad that a 5 year old would say that to a crying baby (13 mos being a baby to me!) for a child to cry (for the most part anyway) something must be upsetting to them. this is not to say, i havent wanted to roll my eyes when my own child has cried, for what seems to be a silly reason. to my child, its not silly, kwim? especially a child as young as 13 months....and where is that older childs sensitivitey and compassion? my five year old gets upset when he sees another child crying, especially a young one. he would never say anything like that, but then again, i have never said that either.

sheesh.

CollegeMama 04-17-2003 11:46 AM

IMO, a person has a right to their feelings and no one can tell you if what you are feeling is appropriate or not. It's not up to them. We feel how we feel and trying to stuff it is only going to cause problems later.
I think you were right in your gut reaction!

sparklemom 04-17-2003 06:20 PM

i agree with your gut reaction too.
SO many children are so often told "don't cry"...."shhhhhhh"..."it's okay, don't cry".... when clearly if the child/baby is crying everything is not "okay."

i never encourage my dds to stuff their feelings. i want them to express and feel their feelings, not go numb as so many people are trained to do. whenever either of my dds (2yrs and 4yrs) hears another child/baby cry they become very concerned.

sure, i don't 'like' to hear my dds cry, but i realize it's a healthy expression of emotion so we just hold each other and work through the tears.

geekmom 04-17-2003 10:16 PM

I have 3 children under 2 years old so I get a lot of crying. One of the reasons I think I don't have a big problem is that I don't mind the crying. I think many people either think they need to help their children stop crying by carrying or feeding or whatever immediately or some parents just feel panicked when their children are crying. They think that children crying means they're a bad parent.

I try to teach my kids that crying is a means of communication and it doesn't need to be stopped. I even went to a workshop once about allowing and supporting our children in crying. It was pretty interesting.

Of course I respond to my kids' communications of all sorts as soon as I understand it, but since I get less anxious about it everyone around me, including my kids, feel less anxious.

I do feel that most people teach their kids that crying is negative. I'd like for people to start thinking that it's positive just like talking.

famousmockngbrd 04-18-2003 11:13 AM

That's something I found very hard at first - to learn to look at DS's crying as neutral, just his way of "talking". As adults we are conditioned to regard crying as "bad" - understandably because in the adult world people don't cry unless they are very sad or upset. In babyland, however, things don't work that way!

My DH was a "troubled" teen - he had to be institutionalized at one point for about 6 months, took all kinds of medication, etc. He is VERY sensitive and while I consider that one of the greatest things about his personality, it can also be a big liability because he gets so upset at things that other people let roll off their backs. I used to tell him he was being "oversensitive" or was "overreacting" but that only used to get him more upset. Gradually I learned that invalidating someone's feelings is a poor way to help them get a handle on whatever is bothering them. All it does is make them feel like there's something wrong with them for feeling the way they do, and it is very isolating. Besides, while I hate to watch DH go around with his heart bleeding for every injustice and it does make his life harder, I don't think that trying to desensitize him is the answer. We don't need to harden the sensitive people, we need to make the world a softer place for everybody.

sparklemom 04-18-2003 11:23 AM

well said!

Lucky Charm 04-18-2003 11:26 AM

Quote:
think many people either think they need to help their children stop crying by carrying or feeding or whatever immediately or some parents just feel panicked when their children are crying. They think that children crying means they're a bad parent.
Good point. I know lots of parents who freak when their child sheds a tear. I tend to get panicked *only* if say i hear a thud, then crying. but as far as babies crying, i dont stress....thats the only way to communicate....being tired, uncomfortable, frustrated, hungry, wet, whatever. not ever tear is a national tragedy. of course, this is not to say, i dont respond. of course i do. and my 5 year old cries mostly if someone hurts his feelings, and we talk about it, and i hold him if he wants. i rarely say stop, or shush. The only time i can say i was stressed by crying was with my inconsolable colicky daughter. i swear she cried fo 11 months. for hours, and hours on end.

Second_in_January 05-04-2003 04:15 AM

In theory I totally agree with all the posts. But practically, I have found myself scolding my six year old for crying. He cries all the time about big things, little things, everything. I think the root is his less than nurturing school environment. We're going to change the school for the Fall. Meanwhile I feel like it isn't right to be scolding him, but at the same time I'm afraid he's going to have problems in his peer group if he cries all the time. Any suggestions???

untomySelf 05-04-2003 07:25 AM

yes

Hold him and support all of his emotional expressions and perhaps pull him out of the unhealthy school environment asap!!

Help him develop inner resources to handle his emotional states
i.e can you draw the feeling?
Want to hit this pillow?
Can you dance it? Sing it? Scream it? Imagine its an animal? Get creative with him, let him know you are on his side

My friend helped her son "find his inner tiger" through an emotional time at school, it hellped him develop his inner "ferociousness". Very cute to see a 7yo boy growling around the house. He felt very empowered after months of tears and helplessness!

Second_in_January 05-04-2003 11:50 PM

That is a great idea, thanks, I'm going to try out the tiger deal with him starting tomorrow!!

Pam_and_Abigail 05-07-2003 08:34 AM

I am one of the ones who panicks as soon as dd cries. And yesterday I caught myself telling her I didn't think there was anything to cry about. I want her to be able to express her feelings, but I get so frustrated. I should mention that she's only 7.5 months. I'm still at the point where I don't know how to respond to her cries sometimes.

Cindi 05-07-2003 09:11 AM

Aletha Solter has a book Tears and Tantrums, as well as some other parenting books which are really good. (I mention this author all the time, but I was just so impressed with her books, especially with regard to crying.) DH and I did a workshop with her and she described the "broken cookie" syndrome, where a load of accumulated tensions and hurts from the day and even lifetime are set off by something like the last cookie being broken. Seeing that "broken cookie" as an aid in releasing tension, has been helpful for me. It is just imporant to not focus in on the cookie too much (or rush out to the store to buy another package) so that its real function can be served, alowing a forum for the cry. Then you child needs only your supportive listening.

Here's a link to her site: http://www.awareparenting.com/

Alstrameria 05-07-2003 10:09 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by untomySelf
My friend helped her son "find his inner tiger" through an emotional time at school, it hellped him develop his inner "ferociousness". Very cute to see a 7yo boy growling around the house. He felt very empowered after months of tears and helplessness!
That is a great idea! I'm storing that for future reference.

I say "it's ok" meaning it's ok to cry, and I said "oh sad tears" as I wipe them away.

Jen

Gracefulmom 05-07-2003 11:29 PM

I definitely agree with the above posts--- babies cry to express themselves. However, my daughter just turned two and is VERY verbal, so I've changed my approach somewhat. Now when she starts to cry over something that seems "silly" to an adult, I get down to her level and say, "I can't understand what you mean. Can you use your words to tell me? Or do you just need a hug?" She chooses one or the other (either of which is fine with me), and she's soon off playing again.

monkeysmommy 05-07-2003 11:45 PM

"that's not a reason to cry"...I wouldn't want someone saying that to me and I'm 35 years old! In fact, I have had certain boyfriends in the past say stuff like that to me, and it made me more upset because it invalidated my feelings and made me feel crazy.

I have said to dd "oh, your being silly." I need to find a better way.

Mommiska 05-08-2003 12:00 PM

Yes - it drives me nuts when people tell my children 'That's not a good reason to cry'. We were in a restaurant the other day, and dd1 tripped and fell on the way out, so she was crying, as she'd hurt herself.

One of the other diners told her that 'big girls like you don't cry'. GRRRRHHHH! I politely told this lady that she'd tripped and fallen and hurt herself, and I'd probably also cry in that situation!

I've just finished reading 'How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen and Listen So Your Children Will Talk', and it has a whole section about this. When we tell our children that something 'isn't a good reason' to cry, or try to convince them that they are OK when they are clearly upset about something, we are telling them to not trust their feelings, and to trust ours instead.

That's not something I want to do with my kids! Feelings are feelings - they aren't right or wrong, they just are. The important thing is teaching our children how to deal with those feelings in a healthy, appropriate way.

This book (which I highly recommend!) suggests simply acknowleding those feelings...with older children, this will often give them the room/space they need to elaborate on the feelings, and figure out for themselves what to do with them.

For younger children, I think just the act of naming the feelings and offering comfort is very healing for a child.

Seriously - get this book! I'm not doing it justice, but it has such great advice...

asherah 05-08-2003 12:41 PM

I agree with all of you, but I do want to point out one thing.
I don't think parents who say "shhhh its okay" are trying to make children "stuff their feelings."

That is a very harsh judgement.

I think saying things like that are an attempt to comfort.

I have caught myself doing it.. but not because I want my ds to stuff his feelings. The sound ssshhhhh is a comforting sound. And one that is somewhat instinctive to make.. I'd do it a lot when ds was colicky.. and later found out it was imitative of comforting white noise.

And "its okay" is meant to be reassuring.

That said, I try not to always do that.. sometimes I just say "I'm here" or "I'm sorry" to my one year old when he cries.

Mommiska 05-09-2003 06:53 PM

I totally agree with you, Asherah - I don't think parents who say 'shhhh, it's OK' are trying to make their children stuff/ignore their feelings. I know they are just trying to comfort.

In fact, it's something that I catch myself saying a lot, in my attempts to comfort.

But I do think that, whatever my intentions, those words can be experienced by my children as telling them to ignore their emotions.

Before I read the 'How to Talk to Your Children' book, it isn't something I thought about...it was an automatic comforting thing I said. Reading the book made me realize that even though I meant to be comforting, I probably wasn't being comforting at all - just the opposite, in fact.

I've been consciously making an effort just to acknowledge my children's feelings and sympathise with them...and I've found that they both respond much better and much more quickly than they ever did to 'shhh, it's OK'.

I'm sorry if my previous post offended - it wasnt' my intention at all...I just wanted to offer a different perspective. As I said - I really didn't do the book justice, and would I highly recommend that people read if for themselves.

Lil'M 05-09-2003 07:29 PM

This just happened to us today! I was picking up my kindergarden dd and the first grader that we carpool with and once in the car my dd started crying because she realized that she'd left her mother's day plant for me at school. I've read the How to Talk So Kids Will Listen book and I've really tried to be conscious about not telling my kids their feelings are not ok. So a teacher was nice enough to get the flower from the classroom(other dd was sleeping in the car already) but dd was still trying to calm down. The other little girl kept saying "that's not a good reason to cry." It kind of surprised me because I realize that it sounds so offensive to me now.

That said, my 2 1/2 yr old dd has been crying over every little thing lately and it is really getting on my nerves! I start feeling angry when she begins crying at the drop of a hat for the millionth time. And she has really great language skills but it doesn't seem to help. I would never say " that's not a reason to cry" but I do think it. Thirty seconds into her latest fit (over something like putting the right shoe on when she wanted the left first) I can ask her "do you know why you're crying?" and she says "no mommy. Why?" (emoticons not working but imagine one where I am having a small stroke).

asherah 05-10-2003 04:06 PM

well i would like to read the book.. i'll put it on my list.

waterbabee 05-17-2003 02:53 AM

So what do you do when your child cries if you don't try to comfort her? My dd is 10 months and if I don't pick her up and try to comfort her I feel neglectful. How would you respond to her crying then; ignore it yet still be present or what?

Elise-mama to Zoe Lea

Mommiska 05-17-2003 05:27 AM

I would defintiely always respond when my children cry...it's just the nature of the response that some of the moms here are questioning.

I think it probably isnt' that comforting for a child to be told 'you're OK' when they are crying, as that tells them that their feelings aren't valid/accurate/whatever. And I certainly wouldn't tell a child to stop crying when they are upset/have hurt themselves/etc.

Instead, I think people here are suggesting that you accept your child's feelings...name the feelings for them and tell them you are sorry they are hurt/upset/etc. And comfort, but do it without undermining the feelings the child is experiencing, you know?

With a 10 month old, I'd keep it simple. If she'd fallen and hurt herself and was crying, I would probably hold her and comfort her, telling her something along the lines of, 'You fell down and that hurts. Mommy is sorry that you hurt yourself'.

Of course, you can still try distraction if it's just a tiny bump and a big fuss is going to create a big fuss. But be ready to acknowledge and accept hurt/upset/etc. when it is there.

Hope that makes sense. (again - I'd really recommend the How To Talk book...even though your dd is very young, it has good ideas that you can defintiely start now to get yourself in the way of it...some of the ideas they suggest don't necessarily come naturally, to me anyway).

Momtwice 05-17-2003 12:32 PM

I could write a long post, but it's better to just say...

get thee to a copy of How To Talk......by Faber and Mazlish. It is SO SO SO good, and kind, and sensible.

waterbabee 05-18-2003 04:53 PM

Carolyn, yeah, that completely makes sense. To validate their feelings rather than just trying to make it go away.
I'll definitely check that book out.

Elise-mama to Zoe Lea

Kylix 05-18-2003 06:01 PM

I've heard "See? You did all that crying for nothing!" before when a baby(!!!) of maybe one or two years cried for his big sister who left the room and came back shortly.

I thought that was very dismissive of his feelings. He didn't do all that crying "for nothing". Unfortunately, I didn't have the courage to say anything to his babysitter (the one who said it) because I know ppl think they I make a big deal about "trivial" things.

I agree that How to Talk...by Faber and Mazlish is a WONDERFUL resource.

Kylix

GoodWillHunter 05-18-2003 09:37 PM

I kind of have a problem with crying...

DS2 cries for "Nogurt! (yogurt)" as soon as he sees me going to the refrigerator. If I open it, he's right there, going for the nogurt! I move him out of the way, and, as I'm doing it, his cries escalate into a tantrum. I've tried explaining to him he has to eat other things rather than yogurt, I've tried hugging him and saying after he eats x he can have yogurt. I've tried putting him in time out untill he calms down, etc. HELP! We have the same problem with the computer.

Mommiska 05-19-2003 05:41 AM

It's always hard when the crying escalates into (or is the beginning of) a tantrum....

If the yogurt wasn't sickly sweet kid's yoghurt, I'd probably just let him have it...figuring that he's hungry and that's a healthy snack. And if it was a very common occurence, and I really felt that yoghurt wasn't a healthy snack, I'd probably stop buying it for awhile...(avoiding confrontations where possible!).

If you aren't comfortable with either of those options (and of course, those aren't possible with the computer), I would name is feelings and accept them, but give a brief explanation about why we cant' have the yoghurt/computer right now.

i.e., 'You would like some yoghurt/to play with the computer right now and are upset that you aren't able to. We can have the yoghurt/play with the computer after X' (or whatever). Then offer an alternative (we can have an apple right now, we can do a puzzle/read a book right now, etc.).

Does that make sense? Your ds is genuinely upset because he isn't getting what he wants at that moment. Those feelings are real and it helps just to have those feelings heard and validated, even if the immediate wants arent' going to happen.

Lil'M 05-19-2003 07:36 AM

GoodWillHunter- My situation is so similar! And I've read the Faber and Maslich books so I know what to say, but when my 2 1/2 year old is having a tantrum, she is not listening to anything! She wants what she wants! She cannot be distracted or placated with another choice. Sometimes I can use humor by tickling her or making silly voices and she will stop crying and will be ready to play. Sometimes I just acknowledge her disappointment or whatever she seems to be feeling and say that I am going into another room because her screaming is hurting my ears and when she calms down we can play together. Maybe this sounds harsh but when she really gets going she also gets physically abusive and then I really start to get upset. Better for me to walk away at that time.

Pam_and_Abigail 05-19-2003 09:40 AM

Where can I find this book, "How To Talk..."? I've tried my local library, and I can't even find it online at chapters...


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