I used to be a feeling-denier.
One of those parents who was quick with “You’re FINE” and “It’s okay! You don’t need to cry!”
Then I had one of those lovely Oprah’esque ‘ah-ha’ moments.
I was telling someone about a disappointing experience when they cut me off.
“It’s not that big of a deal. Don’t worry about it.”
In an instant, my walls went up.
My first thought?
“Why do I even bother talking to you, anyway?!”
And then the light went on.
I was doing this exact same thing to my son almost every. single. day.
I realized all of my “You’re FINEs” and “Don’t crys” were making him less likely to share his disappointments with me.
And one of my biggest parenting goals is to create an environment where my kids feel comfortable coming to me about ANYTHING.
No matter what.
So I had some work to do.
Swap dismissiveness with empathy.
All I did was change “You’re FINE!” to “Oh man, that must have been really disappointing!”
And everything changed.
Instead of crying even harder, like he usually did after I’d say “You’re FINE!”, he settled himself.
It was like all he needed was a little validation. He just wanted to know that I ‘got it.’ That I understood.
That I cared to notice he was feeling disappointed.
Then he was able to let it go.
No theatrics, no hysteria.
He didn’t need to prove how upset he was anymore, because I let him know I noticed.
So I challenge you – the next time your little one comes to you crying or upset, try swapping “You’re FINE” with an empathetic response.
It was a game-changer around here.
I hope it is for you too. 😉
Image Credit: Runar Pedersen Holkestad