Tears: The Key To Getting Your Kids "Unstuck"May 18, 2021
“Crying and tears helped both of us deal with what was such a difficult day and a difficult process. It was a perfect illustration of how tears can be so helpful when a child can access those emotions and is willing to cry when they cannot do anything different and they realize they have to face what is in front of them.”
This week on the 3D Parent Podcast, we will be talking about the concept of crying and how it can help your child become a mature, emotionally evolved human being.
Besides discussing the benefits of crying, throughout the episode we’re also going to share tips and suggestions that can help with getting kids “unstuck” if they aren’t naturally prone to crying.
Some of the topics that we will cover include:
- Why not all tears are created equal, and how tears from emotion like sadness and frustration can actually help children (and adults!) navigate the futilities of life.
- Tips on how to help your kid access complicated feelings if they aren’t naturally prone to crying
- The importance of normalizing crying and how you can do so properly in your own family.
So often as parents, we worry about stopping our kids’ tears, but as this episode explains, it’s even more important to teach your children how to properly let out their sadness and emotions through tears. So I hope this episode helps you get your children’s tears “unstuck” and don’t hesitate to reach out on the website if you have any parenting questions!
Things You Will Learn
[08:18] Crying and tears can really help us out in terms of processing difficult situations in our day to day life. We cannot protect our children from all negative experiences in life. They will be scared. They will be sad. They will need to process their emotions. And crying helps them process these painful feelings and later on, accept that they have to face what is in front of them. Ultimately, crying can eventually help them feel better.
[10:38] In this current situation, I think that all of us are going through a lot. We’ve been completely isolated, and we’ve been dealing with stress due to isolation and fear for our safety, among other things. And so, crying is helpful not just for our children, but also for adults. And I know many parents don’t allow themselves to access those feelings, but it’s important not to walk around feeling so frustrated. If we allow ourselves to feel our natural emotions and just let the tears flow, it can be an effective cathartic experience.
[12:04] If we allow our children to face the futilities of life and let them process the emotions that come with those moments, they become more resilient. They become adaptive human beings, and they come out so much stronger. That’s why it is so important to let them cry and access these emotions because it will help them thrive and become emotionally mature.
[13:05] The fascinating thing about tears is that they are not created equally. As I’ve learned from Dr. Deborah MacNamara, there are benign tears, the kind we get when we have something in our eyes or when we yawn. The chemical composition of this benign tear is entirely different from the tears we release when we are sad, frustrated, or angry. The latter contains toxic proteins. So basically, we are releasing our toxins when we cry due to emotion and this helps our body return to its balance. Crying is more than just a way to start feeling better. It is actually a natural way to detoxify our body.
[15:31] So, as a parent, it’s not our job to try and stop our children from crying. Instead, our role is to help them draw out those tears. If a child fails to cry or ultimately express their feelings of sadness or frustration, we could be concerned because the feelings aren’t actually gone. It may be that our children are using other unhealthy coping mechanisms that ultimately result in problematic behaviors. So next time you feel tempted to give your kids everything they want just to avoid triggering a huge emotional response, remember that you are not actually doing them any favors.
[24:04] On that note, when the tears eventually come, the first thing you should do is make room for that emotion and treat it sacredly, especially if your child had some difficulty accessing these raw emotions. The key here is knowing your child. Some kids might be too overwhelmed so you might need to stay quiet while others prefer physical contact such as holding their hands or hugging them. The most important part, though, is to make them realize that it is okay to feel these emotions and that they can make it through this challenging time.
[25:38] So how do we actually encourage crying for a child who is “stuck”? The first thing we can do is to help them access those feelings without being too personal. There are other external ways to evoke sadness and frustrations. You could start by watching a sad movie, reading a sad book, or listening to sad music. Accessing these difficult emotions will be much easier because these sad experiences are not happening to your child directly. You could use these methods yourself to normalize crying within your family. And when I say normalizing the experience of crying, I don’t mean that you cry in front of your children when they frustrate you. This would send a negative message that your kids are too much to handle, and that can be frightening for them.
[30:04] We also have the challenge of changing the narrative we were given about crying. Society has continuously dictated that crying is a sign of weakness, especially for boys. You need to shift the narrative from “crying is a sign of weakness” to “it takes a lot of courage and bravery to cry.”
[31:15] I want to encourage you to look at your child’s crying in a new light. Tears are the ultimate answer to handling life’s futilities. And it is your role, as their parent, to help your children move through this process and learn to adapt to the things that they can’t change in their life.
Quotes From Episode 32
“There's a lot of messaging that still goes on, particularly in sports, where kids are told not to cry, that it is a sign of weakness. You know, don't cry. Be brave. Be courageous. Don't cry. We need to change that narrative. We need to tell our kids that it actually takes a lot of courage and bravery to cry. That is a very strong person who allows themselves to feel the most vulnerable of feelings.”
“Normalizing the experience of crying for our children is important so they recognize that it is normal and healthy to experience these feelings.”
“When we cry out of frustration triggered by our children, they become highly alarmed when basically we are communicating to our children that they're too much for us to handle. And that can be really, really scary to children.”
“It's a cause for concern, frankly, if your child can not feel their soft, vulnerable, sad feelings, because typically kids who are numbing their feelings also don't care about anything. They numb all feelings. They don't just pick and choose. And that can cause more problematic behaviors down the road.”
“When our children are able to cry and face the futilities of life, they become more resilient. They become adaptive human beings, and they can feel it is survivable. They can get through hard things and come out on the other side and be so much stronger. And those are really important building blocks for maturation.”
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