It is not wrong to cry, but many people still see crying as a form of weakness.
When most parents see their children cry, they rush to comfort them, saying not to cry and to ‘shhh‘. By doing this, I think children are taught there is something wrong with crying; that there is something wrong with showing their emotions because something about tears is shameful.
Nothing about tears is shameful. Tears let us release frustrated or hurt feelings in a natural and healthy way. When children are told not to cry and they stop crying before they are ready, feeling an unconscious need to obey their parents, some of their feelings are left clenched up inside them. Worse yet, some children learn to sob in secret, or forget how to cry altogether.
Emotions that need to be let out and are kept inside can fester and lead to violent behavior or spite. Grief will turn to anger as children are left unable to cry their feelings out, feeling as though there is something wrong with shedding tears.
This happens to adults as well and can leave them depressed or stressed.
It is natural for parents to tell their children to ‘shhh‘ because, over the centuries, those have been the words on the lips of many people, and they have now become second nature for us to speak in response to tears.
But try changing and denying those words. When your child cries, hug them but do not tell them to stop crying. Say anything but ‘shhh‘.
Hold your child and let them cry; the tears will cease naturally. Rub your child’s back. Silent comfort is still comfort. Smile, if you can, for smiles can help your child return to happiness. And, if you are also feeling hurt, shed a few tears with your little one!
The tears will cease naturally and your child will feel comforted and happy, without feeling ashamed or feeling “weak”.
So the next time your child is sad, do not “shush” them, but rather empathize with their emotions and offer the comfort they need instead of the response you want to see. If you do not have any children, acknowledging your own grief and letting your tears flow is as good a practice. It is good to be aware of and support our grief in runnings it natural course.
Introduce another happy, emotionally healthy person into the world!