Whether it’s the tears at drop-off or a teenage meltdown, it can be tempting to tell our kids they shouldn’t cry because “there’s nothing to be scared of” or “it’s not a big deal.”
It’s back to school season and my sister-in-law texted me this week – her 4 year old is going to new preschool, and the school is handing out stickers if kids don’t cry during drop-off. Something in her mama-intuition wasn’t sitting well with it so she wanted to know my thoughts.
I get it – no one wants their kids to cry! But teaching our kids to hold in their emotions has an impact on their nervous system. In this episode of The Calm Mom podcast, I discuss three unexpected consequences of encouraging our kids not to cry.
Rewarding Kids for Not Crying Encourages Emotional Suppression
Encouraging our kids to hold back the tears, even with good intentions, is teaching them to suppress their emotions. The research is supporting that recycling our emotions instead of releasing them, leads to nervous system dysregulation. A chronically dysregulated nervous system can bring about a host of other health issues including elevated stress hormones, increased heart rate, and even chronic conditions like migraines and autoimmune disorders.
Validating Our Children’s Emotions – Mirroring Their Internal Experience
Another consequence of rewarding our kids for not crying is that we may be subconsciously teaching them that they can’t trust their bodies. Emotions are more than just reactions; they’re messages from within. For our little ones, separating from us during drop-offs triggers a stress response. The flood of hormones like cortisol is their body’s way of signaling a need for comfort and security. When we downplay their emotions or tell them it’s “not a big deal,” we inadvertently blur their perception of their own experiences. It sure feels like a big deal in their little body. So being a clear mirror of thier internal experience by validating their feelings nurtures self-confidence and emotional resilience.
The Allure of Conformity: Teaching Our Children to Join the Crowd
When our kids are desperately clinging to us or having a meltdown, encouraging them to “be a big boy like your friends” might seem harmless, but it inadvertently teaches them to dismiss their own instincts in favor of fitting in. While this might work in preschool, we’re probably going to be telling them a different story as they get older. In this episode, we discuss the power of nurturing individuality and why teaching our kids they can stand apart from the crowd matters in the long run.
As parents, our journey is more than surviving the daily challenges of motherhood. It’s about healing ourselves so our kids don’t have to heal from the same things. Acknowledging and healing these patterns can help break the cycle, creating a more nurturing and emotionally resilient environment for our kids. By embracing our own healing, we bestow upon our children a precious gift – the ability to express themselves authentically and confidently, unburdened by generations of suppressed emotions.