I have been reading about this everywhere lately. Parents complaining about children whinging over insignificant things. Mothers bonding over their kids crying over ‘petty’ issues.
And I get it. I do. I get frustrated with my toddler screaming because she can’t fit a dress that she wants to wear so badly. I get overwhelmed when my son won’t stop crying after something seemingly small happened with one of his friends. I know how hard it can feel when such strong emotions are conveyed from something that doesn’t feel important to you.
But I take a deep breath and remind myself: It matters to THEM.
This is where I differ from some people. Because I won’t tell my child to calm down or that “it’s OK“. That seemingly insignificant problem is real to them. It is their truth and it is important to them in that moment. Belittling it or telling them “it’s just ___” isn’t helpful to them in their current reality.
Imagine the scenario from your child’s perspective. This is significant to them. This is affecting them and they are hurting. They are looking to you for guidance and love. Would you like to be met with indifference or frustration when you’re struggling?
Of course not. I think as adults many of us are used to our strong emotions being played off or belittled because of our upbringing. How often do you hear your friends say things like “I know it’s silly” when really it’s not. You know that it is meaningful to them and hurting them but they preface their pain or sadness with a disclaimer because they’re used to being told to “calm down” or “don’t be silly now” when they were younger.
Strong emotions are uncomfortable. No parent is loving it while their child is breaking down because they don’t want to leave their friends place or they wanted to have the certain coloured cup.
But watch that almost magical transformation when you validate your child’s feelings. Watch some of that bigness dissipate when you say “I know you didn’t want that to happen. I’m sorry that happened to you”.
I love that most of my Mummy friends are similar to me in this respect. When Cameron is struggling with something, he is met with compassion and empathy. He’s not asked (indirectly or otherwise) to mute his emotions for the comfort of others.
I value my kids being able to express these emotions because they will gradually evolve into bigger and bigger issues. And I always want them to know that how they feel matters and that they can express it.
This is why this is significant. They’re not going to come to you with bigger problems in the future if you don’t listen to them now.
It matters to them. So show them that that matters to you.
Thank you for reading!
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Beautiful reminder. Thank you.
I try to always slow down, not rush and validate her emotions … really hear her …
But the last sentence really stuck with me.
That she wont come to me with bigger issue if I wont listen to her now… so true.
My mom always used to say “Its nothing, it doesnt matter…”
I quickly found I dont want to tell her my problems and we had a huge distance in relationship our whole life….cuz I always had a feeling she cant and doesnt really understands me…whats more…I thought I was too sensitive, too needy, too complicated…
This seemingly simple and not important reaction can have really really strong impact.
Thank you, again.
Nothing drives me more nuts than hearing adults say “you’re OK” to a kid that’s crying. I understand what the adult is trying to do, but it completely dismisses what the child is feeling.
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
You’ve really go me thinking, I know that I have muted my children’s feelings before, I will work on this. Hmmm.
Jo (down to eath mother) says
Wise words, Rachel! There are lots of very big emotions in our house at the moment due to my kids’ ages and development stages so this is a timely reminder. My new mantra will be “it matters to them”!
Love this… if we don’t allow our kids to feel and express their emotions, however trivial they may seem to us, how can they ever learn to deal with appropriately??
Thank you for putting this into words!