A little girl stood by the arm of the couch, sobbing. Her father was sitting on the adjacent couch. He didn’t understand why she was crying, and it made him feel pretty “not great,” to say the least.
She probably wasn’t crying about anything super logical, but she was expressing her feelings the best she knew how.
“You need to stop crying,” her dad said.
The little girl continued crying, rubbing her eyes trying to make them go away. Eventually, she went into her bedroom, closed the door, and cried alone.
This is a true story about a little girl I knew.
She learned that crying and feeling sadness were bad – that is, unless someone you loved was dead or dying.
Her feelings never got validated by her dad, because they didn’t seem logical.
Sure, maybe they weren’t “logical”, but they were still real… and because her pain was never validated, she never got the chance to heal.
And when we tell our kids to stop feeling one emotion, they stop feeling all of them.
They become numb.
Friends, we have to stop shutting down the emotions of kids because don’t understand them or they aren’t “logical.”
Instead of saying, “Stop crying,” here’s some alternatives…
1 – It’s okay to be sad.
2 – This is really hard for you.
3 – I’m here with you.
4 – Tell me about it.
5 – I hear you. I’m listening.
6 – That sounds really scary, sad, etc.
When comforting a kid, you gotta validate that emotion. Scientific studies show that we don’t know the difference between imagined reality and actual reality. This means that every emotion we feel is our reality. And those emotions deserve to be seen, understood, and if necessary, validated.
A lot of us here grew up in a culture where negative emotions were “bad” and were “shut down.” It resulted in a generation that has spent their fair share of time in therapy, counseling, and inner-healing sessions.
It’s time we turn the tables and start connecting with our kids instead of shutting them down.