Crying is one of the first forms of expression of children at birth, practically the only way they have to attract the attention of their parents and convey their discomfort or their needs. With the passage of time, the little ones learn to speak but on many occasions they do not know how to express their feelings, so they end up crying.
“Don’t cry, don’t be silly”
With this phrase we are creating a negative association that will end up embarrassing the child. Little ones cry for many reasons: because they are afraid, they are frustrated and do not know how to solve a problem or even because they need attention. The genuine expression of emotions is not an unworthy or foolish act, on the contrary, in some contexts it can become an act of authentic courage since when growing up it takes more courage and ability to assertively express our emotions than to hide and repress them.
“Don’t cry, everyone is looking at you”
In this way we are teaching children to be ashamed of their emotions. In fact, with this phrase what we are really saying is that we are ashamed to show our feelings in public and that we are very concerned about what others will think. However, crying is fine, it is a way like any other to express what we feel when words are not enough. It is not necessary to teach children to suppress or hide their feelings for fear of the judgment of others. When they grow up, they will be the ones to decide which feelings to make public and which to keep for privacy. Emotional maturity develops through empathy and understanding, not repression and silencing.
“Stop whining or I’ll give you a real reason to cry”
With this phrase we are simply minimizing the child’s feelings. It is likely that he is crying over an issue that is not important to adults, but it is clear that for the little one it is significant and even painful. We should not try to get children to put themselves in our place because they do not have the tools to achieve it, we must be the ones who adopt their perspective to comfort them and give them the support they need at that time.
“Don’t cry, you are no longer a baby”
It is true that as children grow and enrich their vocabulary, they have more tools to express themselves without having to resort to crying. However, tears are a language that comes from the heart, when words are not enough. Therefore, it is not necessary to condition crying at an age. Crying is not always an expression of immaturity, and it is neither positive nor convenient to establish that association. Let’s not forget that tears sometimes have an enormous cathartic power that is beyond the reach of words.
“Go cry somewhere else, I don’t want to hear you”
With this phrase the emotional bond with the child is completely broken. Parents think that by not paying attention the crying will stop but deep down the message that reaches the little one is that he is alone. When a child cries it is because he or she feels sad, frustrated or scared, so removing him from the adult, who should be his source of security and comfort, is not the best strategy for developing a secure attachment. Instead, we should try to understand what is happening to him, so it would be much better to say, “ I’m by your side, darling. You are safe. I’ll stay with you until you feel better . “