From Amanda: Hello Everyone! When you experience your child crying, what are you feeling? What is going through your mind? Maybe for some of you out there, the answer to this question is that when you see your child cry, you experience some form of discomfort. Many of you who may feel sadness and guilt because you believe you may have had something to do with your child’s crying. You are responsible for your child’s unhappiness. Some of you might believe crying is even harmful to your child, so you do everything in your power to “make it all okay.” You react and respond to your child’s crying (maybe by giving your child something they are wanting)and from this, your child learns that, “Hey, this is a really effective way to communicate my wants and my not wants. If I cry I can move the world and get anything I want.”
As I mentioned in the above paragraph, when our children cry, it is, it is a form of communication. Our children cry because they are trying to tell us something. It doesn’t mean they are sad or angry; It just means they want to tell us something. When we react and respond to crying, this sends the message to our children that this is the way people communicate with one another.
We want to help our children understand that crying isn’t the most effective way to communicate. To do this, I am going to give you some techniques that you can implement with your child at home. Not only will this help your child-IT WILL HELP YOU!!
First, we can begin with our attitude. Know that when your child cries, they are simply crying as a way to communicate something to you, and to the world. It’s important for us to be calm and loving (even if they are crying because they have bumped their head or hurt themselves). When we feel comfortable, our children feel safe and secure, which leads to calmness within themselves.
Secondly, it’s important not to react. We want our child to know that crying isn’t going to move the world and it’s not going to move you!
Last night my daughter had a tantrum after I explained she wasn’t able to go to the father daughter dance due to a prior incident that occurred in school. She jumped up and down on her bed for nearly an hour, screaming and crying, while gently biting her arms and bopping herself in the face. I immediately went to a place of calm within myself to help her. I wasn’t reactive my screaming and yelling myself, or worrying because she was biting herself. I knew she was going to be just fine. I had never in my life seen anyone die from crying, so I let her go. As far as her biting and banging, I could see she wasn’t chomping down hard enough to break the skin on her hand, and she wasn’t hitting herself very hard, so again, I let her be.
Next, I decided to offer explanations to my daughter. Explanations give our children a clearer picture of why we are doing what we are doing, and why we believe crying isn’t going going to be useful to them as a way to get what they want or as a way to say what they want to say. I calmly checked in with her and explained, “I want to help you but I don’t know what you are trying to tell me when you are screaming and yelling.” My daughter continued to cry, so I remained calm and loving and sat with her. She then yelled “I want to go to the father daughter dance.” Again, I lowered my energy and said “Even though this is what you want, you are not going to go to the dance. It’s totally fine if you want to cry, but crying is not going to change the fact that you are not going to the dance.” Well, after I explained this to my daughter, she jumped higher on the bed, bit herself harder on the arm, and screamed louder than she had before-So what did I do? I went to a place of even more calm than I had before and trusted myself in knowing she was going to work this out on her own-even if she wasn’t going to the dance.
Once my daughter began to tantrum more intensely, I decided that I was going to sit with her while she screamed without saying a word. It was clear she wanted to continue crying until she was ready to stop. I sat with her for nearly an hour!! I didn’t move; I didn’t look at her; and I didn’t react; I felt complete comfort and love as I sat still on the end of her bed.
After 50 minutes, my daughter began to calm herself down. She slowed her breathing and lowered herself to a sitting position on her bed. She then looked at me and said “I want to go to the to the father daughter dance. I am sad I can’t go.” My response was gentle, and loving, and warm as I said, ” Thank you for telling me so clearly. You are actually not going to the dance, but know that I love you very much.” With a whimper, my daughter said ” I love you too,” and she went to bed quietly on her own.
In the above example, I used the Son-Rise Program Principles to help my child work through crying which in turn, helped her communicate more clearly. She also learned that crying did not change the outcome.
Being non-reactive, calm, loving, consistent, and comfortable is the greatest gift you can give your child when they are tantrumming. I hope you have the chance to use this soon:)