How to Stop The Crying

Have you ever listened, really listened to how we parent?  This is in no way a judgment or criticism…we do not need anything more to beat ourselves up about.  This is an observation.  I have learned you cannot change things you are not aware of.  So, it helps to pay attention and look very closely.

I was in the store the other day and a child was crying loudly, convincingly, and from my perspective with a lot to do, little time to do it and battling a monstrous headache, annoyingly.  I, like his worn-out mother, trying to do way too much in a short amount of time, with little patience felt drained by the incessant sobbing.  So, just trying to get through the store in one piece (her and her child), this mother tries to convince the child that he is fine.  Well, we all know how that goes.  It doesn’t usually fair well, for either party.  Kids who are crying typically do not want to be talked out of their feelings.

We do it anyway.

It made me stop and think.   If this were me, what would I do? Conversely, if I were feeling something incredibly intense (as this child was obviously feeling), what would I want to hear or what would I need?  Over the next few days, I started to observe other parents, and mostly, myself.  How often did I try to talk my own children out of their feelings (“You’re not sad, you’re just hungry.” Etc.).  What would happen if I listened, really listened and just acknowledged what they were feeling?

I used these concepts a lot, at home and in my practice.  But, I realized there were some emotions I myself was a bit uncomfortable with and had to wrestle around with the thought that maybe, just maybe my daughter “hating” something was just the strongest word she had to use in her vocabulary and it was ok to express this.  I know I’ve had some intense feelings about people and situations before.

At the store, I witness a child get mildly hurt and begin to howl.  The mommy, in all her best attempts to silence the blood-curling screams, was unsuccessful.  Passing by, I look into the little tear-pooled eyes and say, “Ouch.  That hurts.”  He stopped crying, looked at me as if he was unsure what to do with those words and picked up the toy in his lap.  His mother looked at me, a smile and a unspoken “thank you” as I touched her arm and said, “We’re all in this together!  You’re doing great!” and walked on.

I hope when I’m in the middle of a mess with my child, there will be someone with a little better vantage point for me.

Maybe if we can look closely enough, stop talking long enough, we might listen to what is really going on.  Yea, sometimes it is just a tired and cranky child.  It happens…to all of us.  Sometimes, they are actually trying to tell us something else.  Like slow down…listen, stop, see me, and really hear me before I’m all grown up and stop asking you to pay attention.

Funny, that’s when we want them to talk to us.  Only they have learned very well from us how not to listen.




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