It’s OK to Cry. Just, Like, Not So Much!
It’s OK to cry.
Truer words have never been spoken and, as a mom of boys, one of my least favorite phrases has always been “boys don’t cry.”
…I want them to face each day with confidence. I want them to know true, bottom-of-your-heart love. And I want them to witness the type of beauty that brings tears to their eyes.
The statement is not only terribly unfair, but it's grossly inaccurate.
Because, guess what; boys do cry. And they should be allowed to without being made to feel like punks about it.
I want my sons to have access to all of the emotions humanly available to them. I want them to experience moments of bravery. I want them to accomplish things that make them feel proud. I want them to face each day with confidence. I want them to know true, bottom-of-your-heart love. And I want them to witness the type of beauty that brings tears to their eyes.
And when that happens, I want them to know that it’s safe to shed those tears.
But these tears are not the same kind of tears we’ve witnessed on the soccer field when a goal has been missed or at the dinner table when asparagus is served. Not the same ones at the shoe store, the swimming pool, and Chipotle (for apparently no reason at all).
Crying for every single thing is as emotionally inappropriate as never crying at all, and in addition to driving mom and dad up the wall, excessive crying can be a real problem for your child. It may cause him or her to struggle to enjoy or even complete activities, and it can lead to social troubles as well.
Here are some tips to help your weepy kid hold back the tears.
1. Know their triggers. Pay attention to situations that precede your child’s crying jags, and try to avoid them. If you know that being tired, hungry, or rushed is a surefire way to send your kiddo into tears, do what you can to prevent him or her from experiencing those things in excess. Make sure that your child gets plenty of sleep at night, bring along snacks if you know they’ll be asked for between meals, and give your child plenty of time to complete assigned tasks.
2. Break the habit. Crying, like nail biting or thumb sucking, can easily be a habit that your child just needs some assistance in breaking. Make your child aware of the behavior by having a frank but compassionate discussion about what you see happening. Explain to your child that crying doesn’t solve problems, but be very open in conveying that you are interested in helping him or her find a better solution. Suggest some alternatives to try. Instead of crying, suggest to your child that he or she take some deep breaths or close his or her eyes and count to ten to get past the feelings that are causing them to feel like weeping.
3. Don’t let the tears win you over. Sometimes children learn that if they cry, it gets the response they desire. Don’t give in to your child’s demands when crying is being used as a weapon, particularly if your child is being unreasonable. Instead, ask your child to use words to express what he or she would like. And be consistent with your responses so your child will learn what to expect. Your child shouldn’t feel that shedding tears leads to solving problems. It should be taught that crying is a way to express genuine sadness, intense pain, or significant joy, not something used as a tool to manipulate one's parents.
4. Give plenty of positive attention. Your child shouldn’t feel like they have to resort to crying to get attention from you. Supply your child with ample, positive interactions throughout the day so they don’t use tears as a means of garnering your attention. Show your child affection. Praise his or her good deeds. Tell your child that you love him or her and think they’re cool. Turning on the waterworks shouldn’t be the only time your child gets a hug or a high five.
5. Don’t overreact. Just because your 7-your old is sort of a cry baby right now doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a life sentence. Examine the factors that may be causing the weepiness and attempt to address some of those issues. If nothing strange is happening right now, just simmer down. Your child may just be going through a sensitive stage and will likely grow out of it, just like he grew out of the nose-picking phase. And the licking-the-window-at-the-grocery-store phase. And the not-wearing-underwear phase. If he’s still bursting into tears on the soccer field in middle school, you may want to seek some guidance from your family doctor.
Do you have a tearful child? How do you help them move past crying?