Today I’m sharing some real-life scenarios, straight out of my journal, and what happens when wisdom from Playful Parenting, by Larry Cohen is applied.
Today we went to our neighbor’s birthday party. Kai was invited to stay over longer with the bigger kids after the party. Ezra didn’t notice until we got home and he asked, “Where is Kai?”
I explained to him that Kai was invited to stay longer. Ezra proceeded to burst into tears and sob and sob. He wanted Kai to come home and play with him; he wanted to go back over, too.
I think deep down he just wanted to be included.
“I NEVER GET TO DO WHAT I WANT!” Tears and sadness.
I was in the middle of cleaning the kitchen. I wanted him to just stop and play with Jude who was happily playing with cars. His crying and fussing was so irritating to me. “I don’t want to play with Jude!!!”
I wiped my hands, sat on a stool and pulled Ezzy onto my lap. I held him and scratched his back while he cried and cried. I echoed his feelings to him and told him I understood how he felt. Keeping myself calm and comforting while wondering, Will this crying ever stop?
All-of-a-sudden he stopped crying and looked at me with bright eyes. “Let’s bounce a ball on a blanket! Like one of our soccer balls!” I suggested a beach ball. His face lit up. “Oh yeah! That would be better!”
He went to get the beach ball. I got a blanket and roped in Jude and Scott. We all stood there laughing and bouncing the ball around, for only a few minutes. Then Ezzy and Jude drifted off to go play together.
“Many people will do anything to get the crying to stop: bribe, threaten, tease, plead, scold, send the child away, give in to unreasonable demands. If we just accept the feelings and let them flow, they don’t cause half as much fuss. And after the tears are really done, everyone feels better.”
“Tears are good. When we release grief and loss and sadness through crying, we generally feel much better, think more clearly, and recover. These benefits are especially true when we cry with someone who is caring and empathic.” ~ Larry Cohen
Almost time to go out the door - change clothes, eat dinner quickly. I’m going to my Bible study. “Why do you always have to go?” says Kai in a very whiny voice.
It feels like such a selfish question. It’s the one thing I do – the only time I ever leave them. And Kai – the oldest – is fussing about it.
I’m trying to make dinner quickly and Kai starts crying. Arrgh.
Ok, Leslie, Stop. Deep breaths.
He’s crying – give him comfort – he feels sad. I remind myself of this because I don’t feel very compassionate about his tears at that moment.
So I go in his room and hold him on my lap, just hugging him. Finally through the sobs, it comes out – it’s not really about me leaving, it’s about something else that happened in the day. We talk it through.
Now he’s fine, ready to hop off and play. I hold on a little longer – make sure it’s all out. And he’s fine again – happier than ever!
This post was originally published 10/5/2010
“Emotions don’t come from nowhere. It is presumptuous for us to decide which tears to be compassionate about and which ones to dismiss.”
“We can cry alone, but it is so much more healing to cry on someone’s shoulder. That’s why I recommend that parents not send their children to their rooms to cry alone, or leave them alone to cry themselves to sleep. It is more time-consuming to stay with them, to help them let out their feelings of loneliness and sadness, but those feelings don’t just go away because we shut the door on them.”
“If I limit myself to one piece of advice to adults about children’s crying, it is this: Please do not send them off alone to cry. Tears can be a tremendous opportunity for strengthening a connection between any two people, but especially between parent and child.”~ Larry Cohen