A Harmful Parenting Technique that a New Generation of Parents Should be Mindful Of
Most kids are sensitive souls, as are many adults. Raise your hand if you heard this growing up (or maybe continue to hear it as an adult)…
“Stop crying… (or I’ll give you something to cry about)”
I get it. Parenting is a 24/7 job. You’re tired. You get annoyed. But, little phrases like this teach our children that their feelings are invalid. And guess what? We grow into adults and carry that with us.
Don’t forget that your kids are learning to process emotions. As a parent, it’s your job to listen, help them, and most of all not pass judgement or brush them off. Don’t tell them that they’re “too sensitive” or “being ridiculous”. Just like you are the author of your feelings, they are the authors of theirs. A child should never feel ashamed of how they feel.
Crying is healthy. You may think it doesn’t solve anything, but internally, mentally, it helps us a lot. Crying releases stress and improves your mood. That release allows you to think and process more clearly. Unfortunately, when we don’t allow ourselves to cry, it actually heightens the emotional response and eventually that feeling will boil up again and may actually feel worse than if you had dealt with it in the first place.
I’m of the mind that you don’t have to understand why someone is the way they are, but you can respect it. Constantly denying yourself healthy emotional response may also lead to anxiety and depression, so that’s something to be aware of when you’re responding to your children.
Flash forward to the Teen Years. Maybe you have a teen that refuses to talk to you about anything. Well, how did you handle their emotions as children? Speaking from experience, I was that emotionally shut off teen. I heard “You can talk to us about anything” so many times and any time I tried, I was more often than not, shut down. It all goes back to “you’re too sensitive”, “you’re ridiculous”, “there is no reason for you to be crying”… Invalidation through adolescence makes emotionally shut off adults. (I’m not saying this is the case for all teens that don’t want to talk to you. It’s a weird time for them, but often, their emotional responses have to do with how they’ve been responded to in the past.)
Are you a terrible person/parent for throwing out a “stop crying”? No. But, I think we’ve forgotten how the weight of our words affect others. The simplest phrases can act as paper cuts on the soul. Emotional scars take a long time to heal. So, be conscience of how you respond to the emotions of others. Everyone’s feelings are valid, especially ones that belong to tiny humans.
My tips for raising an emotionally intelligent child are:
1. Let them know they’re allowed to feel a certain way
2. Ask them questions about their feelings (this allows them to learn how to process them)
3. Show them how to be sensitive to others
4. Explain why they or someone might feel the way they feel
Remember: Emotions don’t know logic. We must learn how to process them from a young age. Trying to fix ourselves as adults is not easy or cheap.
Great tips! Parenting is not easy but as a parent myself I agree with you on allowing children to express their emotion. Feelings and emotions are what make each one of us unique in our own way.
I am currently reading the books of Isabel Filiozat and I agree with you. We should listen to our kids feelings and embrace them with empathy.
Great recommendations and tips! It’s really difficult to be a parent. A lot of my friends told me. I hope it really depends on the situations you are in.
These are some fabulous tips. I try to never tell my kids to stop crying. I do tell them to stop whining, because there is a difference. But I also want them to be open about their feelings.
I completely agree! Crying is healthy and I want my daughter to feel comfortable!
I love that you mention that it is not important to understand why someone is the way they are, that is just them. Well said! I have three kids and each one has a different level of emotions, and I have to handle situations differently for each of them.
Yes! I’m expecting my first child and for years I’ve told my husband how much it bothers me when people tell children to stop crying – especially the phrase “or I’ll give you something to cry about” – probably one of my biggest pet peeves ever! Glad you are spreading this message!
Such a great post! Parenting is definitely not easy. Emotional intelligence is so important and I wanna make sure that I am raising emotionally intelligent kids! Totally bookmarking this.
I was told that phrase often when I was little and I don’t have any lasting effects from it. I think it largely comes down to the actions that follow specific phrases like that.
Donah @ SJB
Guidance from parents is very important in that age. I agree to your techniques!
I still remember crying as a child and my mom telling to stop and that I had no feelings. Ugh. I have 2 boys and have always let them cry it out.
I heard that phrase a lot in my childhood. Children were not allowed to be children or have thoughts or opinions. I am working hard to not repeat that cycle of oppression to my children.
Great post. Got me thinking about how I was raised and That I do some of the “not so good” at times. 🙁 thanks, truly for opening my eyes.
These are really things to think about. I’ll try to think about these things more often when talking to my son (even when I’m tired and annoyed).
This is great advice for any generation raising kids. I am an adult and my mom and I got into it a few weeks ago because I got upset over something serious she said and she told me to stop being sensitive. You cant dismiss someones feelings of what you are saying to them by calling them sensitive as parents. Parents have to understand their child are humans too.
I think that was my mom’s favorite line when I was growing up! I’m a different kind of parent and I’ve had to learn to be a lot more sensitive to my kids’ feelings. My boy is a very sensitive one and needs to openly expresses his feelings. It’s when I don’t allow him to that we run into trouble and tantrums. You provide wonderful tips!
I have raised my son to talk out his feelings and to process them. Unlike myself who grew up knowing crying wasn’t allowed and to this day rarely ever cry if at all. I was taught is was weak so I tried to teach my son the opposite.
Very good advice! When parents validate their children’s feelings they open doorways to great communication with them as youngsters and later as teens.
My dad said that too me all time. I personally don’t think that his style of parenting affected me in any certain way. But I’m not sure that I would parent the same way. Luckily though, I’m not planning on having children so I won’t ever have to be put in that situation. But I do give it up to all the parents out there doing the best they can!
These are some awesome tips for all the new parents like me. Thanks a lot for sharing this post. This really helps
This is an important issue… we are expecting our first baby and this post is really helpful for raising kids 🙂
Great post. You’re so right crying is natural. Speaking as a “crybaby” lol it is important to let our kids process their emotions without belittling them or de-validating them.
Oh man parenting is so hard, you have to teach your kids from right to wrong and also how to understand and learn.
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I heard this phrase a lot when I was growing up, and it upsets me whenever I remember it. My family life was toxic for me, the unwanted female child, and I am doing my best to be a very different mother to my kids. I’m sure there will be things they won’t like about my parenting, but they will know they can feel however it is they feel and I will be there to help them talk through it.