“Put those tears away!”
How often have I heard those words? How often have I used those words?
Why are we so afraid to allow children to feel and express unpleasant emotions?
Instead of helping them to work through their feelings we expect them to just tuck it all away.
It reminds me of an image I saw on Pinterest recently:
Making children “put their tears away” does not stop them from having emotions, it just teaches them that their feelings do not matter.
What if we showed empathy instead and validated their feelings? I know when I’m upset, the last thing I want is to hear is, “get over it” (which is essentially the adult version of “put those tears away”).
I believe children build resiliency when they are allowed to feel whatever they are feeling. They learn how to work through their emotions when they are given the opportunity to do so.
In the Baby Centre’s article How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child, the first thing psychologist John Gottman says is Listen with Empathy.
“Pay close attention to your child when he says how he feels, then mirror what he’s shared back to him… This tells your child that everyone has these feelings, and that they will pass.”
I know this is from a parenting perspective, but I think it is just as relevant as an educator. I have the pleasure and privilege of working with some of the youngest members of our school system and they deserve our respect.