For how long can you bear your child´s cry?

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There are a number of reasons for babies and children to cry: express a need, pain, tiredness, frustration, missing mommy or simply spill emotions. Many times it´s useless to try to soothe their crying for it can lead to even more crying. Many times their need is simply to cry.

Whenever around a child crying, adults try to make her stop crying. But when we rush to the crying child and somehow make her stop crying, we might be impeding her to soothe herself or simply let her feelings go. We have tons of techniques to make children stop crying but what if all they need is to cry for a while?

We have to be more used to validating their feelings

When a child cries for seeing her mother leaving the room, we should just validate her feelings and say something like: “I understand you are upset because your mom left, but she will come back”. That´s it, let the child cry for a while and that will probably be just seconds or minutes, harder on us to listen then on them who need to relieve their upset feelings crying (and don´t need being distracted).

Janet Lansbury put it nicely in one of her posts: “If we can give them the space and time to express painful feelings instead of arresting their cries, and if we can steady ourselves to work through our own discomfort, then our children can be reassured that their true responses are accepted and appropriate”.

A personal example is that I´ve been listening to Luísa crying almost every single day when she comes back from school. She comes home very tired after a lot of interactions and activities for four hours in the morning. And as soon as she walks in the house, she starts complaining and crying and there is simply nothing I can do to help her out of it.

I learned to accept it and let her release the morning tensions her way: crying and screaming.

I´m ok with this now, but it was hard for me in the beginning. I would try to comfort her in any way I could. Most of my attempts would be a disaster, because there really wasn´t anything I could do. The only thing she needs is to cry in peace for a while.

I guess it took me about a year to let go trying to soothe her. It was especially hard for me to take this perfectly normal behavior when I had guests at home. Guests staying over would be nervous by her crying/screaming at lunch time, wondering what we could do, trying to help to make her comfortable and sometimes being confused by my let it be attitude.

When having our screaming-every-day-at-twelve routine shared with someone else, I´d feel tremendously insecure with my decision to just let her be. I would be influenced by the guest´s nervousness, trying to soothe Luísa, causing even more stress.

I realized that having guests at lunch time would add to my insecurities as a mother, but now that I´m aware of what´s going on, I can simply tell the guests to let her scream and cry for a while and if that makes them nervous then it´s fine if they want to be away.

I had a skype talk with Tara last week and we talked about it. It was comforting to hear from her that it was nice for Luísa to have a safe place to lose it, since she probably tries hard to fit in at school.

Crying with mommy (or sometimes screaming at mommy) can be so reassuring for a child. It was so good to talk with Tara, because as though I´ve been feeling that letting Luísa cry and struggle a little (or a lot) is fine, most adults that I relate to will try to help me to fix her behavior.

Is crying and screaming a behavior to be fixed at all times? No. Screaming a bit at home doesn´t mean that she is not being educated. On the contrary, in this specific case it´s helping by letting her liberate her feelings and by not repressing what´s natural.

Children have the right to cry after all. We must find a way to calm down our necessity to soothe them right away. We have to get more used to let them cry a bit (or a lot). They need it. They need the space to release their emotions freely. Otherwise, we might be teaching them not to listen to their feelings, to replace them by some activity, rationalize too much. We don´t want this, right?

Photo Credit

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on October 25, 2010. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.

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