"Nobody likes it when you make that sound." 😖
"I can't hear you when you're crying." 😭
"No crying! Be happy." 😢
Actual words I have heard (and maybe even said once or twice) people say to Violet when she is having big feelings. And now they make me cringe. 😬
When you are having an emotional day, and you need to cry, how would you feel if that was the only response you got? How would that make you react?
If it were me, I'd probably cry more... maybe get into a rage and kick something (just being honest).😤
Why is it that as adults we are allowed to cry and yell, but because they are little, they can't have *big* feelings? 😫
For some reason, in our culture, we have been lead to believe that the feelings of a child are not valid. That they can only be listened to when they are "behaving" and acting "happy." 🥺
That's just simply untrue.
As parents it is our job to make sure that our little ones feel safe and loved. Often times the regular stressors of the day (learning to share, having to button your own shirt, teeth coming in, not having the right color crayon, etc.) build up and explode out once they know that they are in a safe space. Just like when we have a bad day and you come home and hug your partner and the tears just flow out. As humans, we only allow ourselves to be vulnerable only when we feel truly safe and at ease. For kiddos that means releasing emotions when they are in their home with their parents.
A child's brain lacks the ability to process all of the new and exciting feelings happening within their body. Sometimes the only way to release those emotions is to cry. 💦💦💦 Crying is often seen as a sign of weakness, but turns out, it's actually good for you.
Crying reduces stress
Crying lowers blood pressure
Crying releases toxins like cortisol from the body
Crying reduces manganese (a mineral which, when in excess, can cause feelings of anxiety, irritability and aggression).
Crying helps us to acknowledge the feelings we are experiencing
I hear you now, "But what do I do when they are screaming over something (seemingly) trivial?!"
😭😭😭 Here are some tips on what works best for us:
Kneel down to their level-- I like to actually, physically sit on the floor so that I feel grounded during this experience.
Take recognition of their emotions-- The first thing I usually say to Violet is, "Hey, I see you are feeling really sad/ upset/ frustrated right now." Many times this statement alone will tune the meltdown down to a pouty lip and streaming tears.
Acknowledge why they may be feeling this way. "I know it is so frustrating that you can't touch the fire under the pot. Fire is so pretty."
Give them the *real* reason why they can't do what they want. "They fire is really pretty, but if you touch it, it will give you a really big owie." Often times this statement brings the big feelings right back up to the surface. THAT'S OKAY. It is important that they understand why something is unsafe for them to do.
Hold space. This is probably the hardest part. Sometimes it seems like the crying will never stop. Let them know that you are here for a hug and snuggles when they are ready. I challenge you to stay there quietly. Sit on the floor within their reach and wait. It make take a little while for them to process all of their feelings, but soon they will pass and you will be the safe place for your toddler to land.
Once she is calmed down, I like to offer a distraction or a change in activities. "Would you like to help me stir the pot now?"
This process is simple, but it has worked wonders for our relationship. I am taking the time to recognize her emotions and practice patience and in turn, she is becoming more secure and confident in herself. "Tantrums" last a much shorter amount of time and I can tell that she is learning how to handle her emotions with every scenario.
Next time your little one is melting down (for whatever reason), give this a try. Let me know how it works for you.
<3 <3 <3