If we go back to when our child is 1st born, how do you know if they are hungry, uncomfortable, hurting, sleepy, etc.? They cry.
Crying is the 1st way a child learns to communicate with others. Crying is the way the child learns how to build a relationship with their parent and caretakers. Crying helps a child build trust.
So why is crying not ok? Can you imagine a child crying for 12 months and getting all of their wants and needs met, then one day, someone says, “no more crying?”
Crying is a behavior. A behavior happens in order to meet a need. Therefore, if you want to reshape a behavior, you have to replace it with another behavior that will meet the same desired need at the same level or higher.
Teaching a child to talk will replace the need to cry to get what they want and need. However, it does not mean that the child should not be allowed to cry ever again.
If you think about this in a step process, knowing that we are starting from crying as the main way to communicate, the 1st step is to teach a child to talk to get their needs and wants to be met vs. crying for it. The 2nd step is to teach your child what emotion they are feeling. If your child can not verbally express: they are angry, they feel rejected, they feel hurt, they feel upset they are not getting their way (because lets be honest, your child got what they wanted by crying, and now they can talk, they are learning they do not get what they want all the time.), so what do they do? THEY CRY! They will scream, because it is innate in them from day 1, and their little minds that are in the development process remember what used to work, so they go back to that behavior.
1 way to teach them about their emotions is to validate them. Look at why your child is having the behavior where they are screaming and crying. What is it they want? What can you tell them to help them realize what they are feeling?
Last night I was in a restaurant with my family and my 2-year-old granddaughter wanted to sit in between her parents in the booth. She used her words “I sit by my daddy.” Because they know what she really is asking for is to sit in between her dad and mom, my son moves next to her and said, “now you are sitting next to dadd.” Well she did not like that. The entire restaurant could see she did not like that. Instead of picking her up, I said she needs to be validated that she is upset she did not get what she wanted. So I said, “I know you want to sit on the booth, and that makes you sad.” Then I redirected her to something and the crying stopped. As soon as she refocused on sitting in the booth, crying started again. I can see the embarrassment of my son and daughter-in-law. I agree no one enjoys to hear a screaming child. I then said, you can pick her up and take her outside so she can feel what she needs to, and then come back. I then said, do not feel you have to say sorry, instead say THANK YOU, for allowing my 2-year-old to feel what she needs to. It took 2 times going through this, and by the time dinner came, she was sitting in her high chair and ate her food.
I share this with you because a lot of parents will react because they are embarrassed like they are being judged by others because their child is having an emotional release. There are many that do judge, and those that are judging are not raising your child. We parents have an opportunity to teach our kids that their emotions are ok, all of them. It is a time that we can teach them how to self-soothe.
At home when my 7-year-old twins have an emotional release, they go to their rooms to feel what they need to. They are not in time out, they are in their safe space to feel what they need to without judgment. When they are done, they come and talk about what they are feeling, what triggered it, what do they want to feel instead and what can they do next time to feel that way?
If we start labeling our children and shaming them for releasing what they feel, when will they understand their emotions? When will they get a chance to appreciate what they feel and how to respond?
Look at all the adults you know. How many of them hold their feelings in, until they explode? How many of them continue to wear masks because they are afraid to show how they feel. How many do not know how to be vulnerable because we learned at a young age, crying was not ok.
Crying is ok. We need to help our kids learn to 1st identify what they are feeling, then how to release it, and then how to talk about it. This is giving them the freedom they need to feel and not be shamed for it.