I’ll give you something to cry about!
Did either of your parents ever say this to you? Here is how I remember it. Growing up I would often have to translate my father’s English to others around us. My father with this completely bewildered and perplexed look on his face, completely frustrated with me, “What are you crying for? He would ask in the thickest Chinese accent barely understandable to any English speaker. “I don’t know why you are crying, what you need?” or the perplexing “I’ll give you something to cry about?” I mean really, what was he going to give me? I was already crying, for crying out loud!
Toddler’s cry, seemingly, sometimes for no reason. We can be out having the best time then suddenly the water works can just come on. These days it’s more boo-boo related than anything. Monday mornings are guaranteed good crying mornings. There is a shift in the energy in the house from the laid back weekends of playtime together to the rushing madness of pulling it back together for the work week ahead. Tino knows just by how I start to dress in the morning that Daddy’s headed to work again.
Recently, Imua Family Services had its Early Childhood Development Conference and the keynote speaker Dee Fish told me something while we were having lunch that changed me. In fact it made me feel better about toddler tears- “Children cry to relieve stress. The younger the child the less ability they have to communicate or deal with stress so crying relieves it for them.” Of course that makes perfect sense, and it really helps to understand a child’s frustrations a bit more. For some reason that change in perspective seemed to make such a difference. Now when Tino cries for a reason I’m not quite sure of, I just tell him, “That’s right baby, let it out, you’ll feel better.” Or, I am better able to find the source that might be causing him to feel stress, at this given time.
Janet Lansbury wrote: The time comes when we have to say no to our toddlers and they object to our decision and end up crying. This also feels innately wrong. So we either find ways to distract our child or just give in and please him instead, which then causes our children to make increasingly unreasonable demands…because they desperately need our “no” and their cry. But instinct and culture tell us our children shouldn’t be crying, and it’s up to us to make them stop.
Thankfully there are some intelligent, insightful, compassionate voices of reason out there. Experts like Magda Gerber, Aletha Solter, and Patty Wipfler are champions for your baby’s emotional health…and yours, too. Their books and articles help us to understand that an infant’s cries are not only okay, they serve an important purpose. When babies cry, our job is to tune in, provide help, love and support as needed, but not necessarily stop the crying.These experts agree that crying is the primary manner in which babies communicate, and we must, without question, respond to our baby’s cries. As Magda Gerber notes in Dear Parent: Caring For Infants With Respect: “Crying must be responded to. But how is a more complicated issue. To follow the advice, “do not let your baby cry,” is practically impossible. At times the harder a mother or father tries to stop the baby’s crying, the more anxious everyone becomes.”
”Fortunately, babies come equipped with a repair kit, and can overcome the effects of stress through the natural healing mechanism of crying. Research has shown that people of all ages benefit from a good cry, and tears help to restore the body’s chemical balance following stress. A growing number of psychologists believe that the healing function of crying begins at birth, and that stress-release crying early in life will help prevent emotional and behavioral problems later on.” –Solter
As we grow up, hopefully we find other ways to deal with stress. Laughter is a great release for stress, so is some form of exercise. I love to run to release stress, I also get my best ideas when I am running, I am able to sort out all kinds of things in my head when my feet are hitting the pavement. But I can honestly say with some kinds of stresses, crying is by far the best medicine. In unfortunate case scenarios it might be the only way you can deal with a stress factor. When I really want to enjoy a good cry, and sometimes I do, its time to pull out “Steel Magnolias” or “Beaches” and more recently “P.S. I Love You” three of the greatest chick flicks of all time. These flicks are to leave you sobbing into a clutched pillow. But afterwards you’ll feel great. So if a good cry will help me work out my issues, then by all means, if Tino-bambino wants to let one rip from time to time, I say “bring it on baby” in fact maybe I’ll join you?