My child won’t stop crying!

The next time your little one is losing it over something you think is silly (like maybe they asked you for a banana but not a PEELED banana, and, well, you peeled it! Who knew this could cause such pain and upset, right?!? but they are kids – not mini adults, and believe it or not, it DOES…) and you’re tempted to stay “Stop crying” or “Don’t cry”, take a deep breath and as you offer them the peeled banana anyway, say instead “I see you’re sad/disappointed. It’s okay to cry. I’m here…”

mr rogers quote

Say these words and mean them. Be there for your little one who is just beginning to learn about this thing called “feelings” … including anger, disappointment and yes, even rage.

Sure. It’s not easy to sit there and listen to your child cry when every cell in your body wants to yell “ALRIGHT ALREADY HERES YOUR DANG BANANA. SHEEESH WILL YOU STOP CRYING??!?! IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL!” as you reach over to the fruit bowl and grab another banana.

But imagine instead you simply say “This is your banana today. If you want to peel your banana tomorrow you can. This is your banana today. It’s right here if you’d like it.”  Instead of being angry and reactive, these words are responsive, like training wheels, helping your child learn to be with their emotions, to express them and to shift.

As you sit with your child in the middle of their upset, look to yourself. What is happening in your body? Are you holding your breath? Are your shoulders tense and way up by your ears instead of relaxed and sitting on your ribcage? Does your face look all scrunched up, irritated and/or scary? Take a deep breath. Soften the lines on your face and keep breathing (this is the first thing that goes when we’re upset). Imagine a moment with your child where you were at peace and FULL of love. Snuggling. Staring into their big, dark eyes when they were a newborn. Breathe, holding this memory in your mind as you allow for this less than peaceful child that is before you to be seen as well.

As you sit there together, accepting your child and all their many feelings, she will likely still cry and she may never reach over and eat that peeled banana, but in the end, she will feel HEARD. And even though she was dealing with some downright big/scary/ugly feelings, the two of you will leave the experience feeling closer to one another instead of mad/angry/frustrated and further apart. Instead of learning to whine and cry to “get her way” your child learns 1) you can be trusted with their big emotions and 2) you can be loving even as you are setting limits. Limits that are clear, firm and respectful. What a gift.

Let your child know in ways great and small, you are a safe place for them to feel their emotions no matter what. Because you two? You are on the SAME SIDE OF THE COURT. You are connected. You are a team.

(And a damn good one at that.)

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  1. Bluenotebacker says:

    Our 7yo (my step-son) cries a LOT, at every slightest thing, whether he’s talking back, ignoring directions, or anything that he perceives as putting him “in trouble” or hurts his feelings. Every day there’s an episode and while I see this message, and the one from Fred Rogers, it’s increasingly difficult NOT to say, “Don’t cry.”

    We’ve talked (and continue to talk) about situations where pretty much everyone cries- physical injury & pain being one, and yes, it’s OK to cry when your feelings are hurt, but when it’s all the time, every day, it seems a little over the top, like a cry for attention and nothing more.

    What’s your opinion on a situation like that?

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    these are beautiful insights you are sharing. i hear your intuition telling you these are cries for attention, and so, this is what is needed. this is where i would go, to the root, not the trigger (the crying/behavior). No amount of punishment, criticism, ignoring or other will satisfy and thus stop the crying/mis-behavior. ask yourself this: How can i help this child feel powerful, safe, and seen? how can i help them fill their unconscious drive TO BE SEEN! to be held in the bright, focused light of my love and attention so that they might know, deep in their soul, that they are love. that they are powerful. that they are enough. xoxo Suzanne

  2. great post. I think we can automatically assume that it’s our job as parents to cheer our kids up by trying to get them to stop crying, when actually that’s more for our own benefit than theirs. I’ve seen time and time again with my daughter that if she gets to the natural end of her cry (rather than me interuppting it) then she’s in a much better mood afterwards. I love your advice to be mindful and relax when we are in the moment with our child. If we can be at peace with tears, then parenting becomes so much easier

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Thank you Kate, I so agree. I’m glad the post resonated truth with you. I checked out your site and know/love the parenting approach you are trained in. I look forward to your book’s release in Oct. How exciting. Please keep me posted. Have you visited my new site yet? I think you’ll like what it’s all about and our first release, PeaceMakers. Perhaps you and I can Skype/talk sometime soon? Again, thank you for the insightful comment and for adding you – your love and your ideas – to this place. xo Suzanne