Don’t put those tears away.


“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.



So here goes… My first blog post!

I have been thinking about the idea of “compliance” lately.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a five year old and a two year old so I understand the urge to have children comply…

Sometimes I just want my kids to listen to me when I say, “please put your shoes on” for the fifth time. It would make things a whole lot easier.

There are times though, when I question whether I truly want my kids or my kindergarten students to follow my commands blindly.

In her book, Kids Are Worth It!, Barbara Coloroso says,

Control tactics, positive or negative, have as their objective to compel or prevent actions and coerce kids to behave in an adult-approved way.  As a result, kids learn to do what they are told without question – not because they believe it is the right thing to do…

If I believe that as adults we should question what we are told, then why do I want to raise kids who just do what I say?

Obviously, if kids are engaged in behaviour that is unhealthy or dangerous then there isn’t room for negotiation. When I think about my kindergarten classroom though, a number of questions arise…

Why can’t students decide where they want to play? Why shouldn’t they be able to choose their own activities and materials? Do all students need to sit on the carpet at the same time, especially if they are not engaged? Is it appropriate to make a student apologize if they aren’t sorry?

As educators we need to question why we make students do certain things. Is it based on sound pedagogy or do we just want them to comply? And if so, why?