Go ahead and cry


I’m sharing a smiling picture of my daughter because I don’t take pictures of her when she’s upset, but, this blog is about kids being upset, which translates to being about upsetness, in general.


Did you know that, in general, agreeing to someone’s big, upset emotions actively helps them calm down, while disagreeing can cause things to escalate? Kids are less filtered about it, but it’s true for all (most?) of us, if you think about it. If I tell someone something horrible happened, and they say, oh, it wasn’t that bad, I’m likely to get even more upset. Do you HEAR me? It was TERRIBLE!


On the other hand, it’s so comforting to hear, “Oh, something horrible happened? Oh no!” Or, for the instance of my daughter who got hurt on her scooter today and approached me sobbing, “Wow, that really hurts!”


Some tips:

*Simply saying “You’re really upset (hurt / frustrated / sad / disappointed)” in a compassionate voice can be a great first start to entering into communication with a kid who’s clearly very upset

*Doing so often helps me stay separate, while connected to this person, rather than taking on their emotions. If my kid is frustrated, and I try to talk her out of it (“We don’t have time for this!”), I often end up just as frustrated, maybe moreso, than her. However, saying “You’re so frustrated!” helps to give her language for her feelings, and also helps me realize, those are her feelings, and they don’t need to be mine.

*When kids, or folks any age, are having big upset feelings, that’s usually not the best time to use logic to explain why you don’t think it’s a big deal, why they should actually be grateful, or to make sense out of anything really. It’s a great time to model how to calm down (ex: taking deep breaths, going outside together).

*It’s helpful to find something to agree about. Often, my goal with my daughter when she’s upset is to get her to nod “yes” to something. I’ll offer something like “That was scary!” or “You didn’t expect that!” I feel like that creates a connection between us that helps her feel safe, connected, seen, and able to calm down a bit.


To give credit where it’s due: I learned so much language for this concept and strategies from reading the book “How to Speak So Little Kids Will Listen” by Joanna Fabre and Julie King. I highly recommend it for anyone who is parenting / caregiving / working with kids.


Have you tried this technique? What have you found with it?


4 views0 comments