Why should we welcome our children’s tantrums and see crying as a healthy part of all of our existences? Well, I’m going to give you 10 reasons why…
Researches show that crying is good, for all of us! Our tears are full of cortisol (stress-hormones) and by crying we literally rid our bodies of those hormones!
A quote by Aletha Softer, author of ‘the aware baby’ goes something like this:
”Fortunately, babies come equipped with a repair kit, and can overcome the effects of stress through the natural healing mechanism of crying. Research has shown that people of all ages benefit from a good cry, and tears help to restore the body’s chemical balance following stress.” -Softer
When children are raised to believe it’s forbidden to cry, they receive a repeated message that we don’t want to be around them when they feel bad (time-out). What happens later in life when they experience these negative emotions? Will they dare to face them? Will they dare to express them? Or will they repress them, deny them and feel ashamed of them?
When we stay calm when our children cry and meet the crying with understanding, we are sending out an important message, that they don’t have to be afraid of negative emotions, that it is okay and normal to sometimes feel bad. This is an important lesson to learn and our children will use this later in life, better prepared to deal with difficult emotions in a healthy way.
When we let our children experience a tantrum on their own terms and support them through it, they learn what emotions are. Emotions are like waves, they have a beginning, peak and an ending and they pass if we just go through them and let them out. Crying is a great tool to release tension in the body! young children aren’t able to regulate their own emotions so they have to learn it with our assistance, and it starts with support!
When we then see how good our children feel after their tantrums, then it won’t be long until we start to welcome the crying (sounds weird, I know) but it’s amazing how much our attitudes about crying can change when we start to realize how important and good it is for our children!
I love this one quote from Janet Lansbury where she sais:
“One of the most ironically counterintuitive twists of parenting is this: the more we welcome our children’s displeasure, the happier everyone in our household will be.” – Janet Lansbury
When the child gets to go through emotions on it’s own terms and we don’t stop their crying, then we also know that the child actually feels better when the storm has calmed down. But it’s not just them that feel good and in balance – ourselves as well.
As a mother, I know I am never prouder than when I have remained calm and gone through a tantrum with my daughter – completely accepting her emotions and reactions – I then feel so proud to be able to create a safe zone where she’s able to express herself however she needs. I feel proud that I’m able to stay calm and understanding and most importantly, I feel proud of the fact that in those moments I turn towards my daughter and am on her team. To be there and support her when she feels bad is so important to me and than that moment after, when I can clearly see how thankful she is for the support and the unconditional love, it is truly priceless.
Many parents complain that their children are always the “naughtiest”/”whiniest” around them. The minute the mother picks her child up from the kindergarten, it starts testing which sometimes turns into a full blown meltdown. The kindergarten teachers don’t understand this behaviour at all – “but she’s been so happy the whole day!”
Children will release their emotions in an environment where they feel safe and around people they know that love them unconditionally. So it’s actually a compliment in itself that a child trusts you to handle their emotions.
It’s difficult to listen to your own child cry and when a child expresses big emotions we usually want nothing more than to make the crying stop, change crying into laughter, somehow get them out of this bad mood so they feel better. We sometimes become scared that it’s too much for them to handle, to go through big and long tantrums. But we have to trust them to be able to handle all of their emotions, also the difficult ones.
If a child isn’t allowed to finish a tantrum in its own terms (if we revert their attention, tell them to stop crying, that enough is enough etc.), it will have to release the tension in the body in another way. Whether it’s in another tantrum that soon follows the first one or in another type of undesirable behaviour and resistance.
Because a child is never better balance than when it has gone through a tantrum. It’s calmer, happier and more cooperative. Most children would rather want to gain emotional stability by themselves but it’s us that often block the process because we have such a hard time handling their crying.
Me and my daughter are never more connected than after we have gone through a tantrum together and this deep connection where we are in harmony and feel good together often lasts the whole day or even longer. It’s amazing how much bonding happens when we manage to stay calm and support our children through a tantrum. It proves to them that they can show us their worst sides and we still love them unconditionally and know that they are always good.
Children’s crying is often a trigger to hard and strong emotions for ourselves as well. A big part of adopting RIE or similar “mindfulness” parenting methods is observing which triggers we experience ourselves around our children’s behaviour. To look at the emotions and the responses that appear and work through them so we can stay calm, separate our feelings from our children’s feeling and as a result become better, more self-confident and happier as parents.