When we talk to our children, the words we use have great power: they can calm them down or hurt them, distance them or bring them closer to us, cool off or warm their hearts and open them, cultivate dependence or autonomy for them.
With the “why” we ask children (e.g., “Why are you crying?” ), the child automatically takes a defensive attitude because he assumes that we think there is no reason. In contrast, children believe that there is a reason – which should be obvious. They also think that the question “why” hides a category (“Something must be going wrong with you if you are so upset about something like this, )
When children realize that they have the right to be honest and authentic and have feelings and see that we care about their point of view, they tend to invent the solution to their problem or even compromise with reality. But when they realize that their feelings are ignored or rejected, they cannot solve their problems. They feel angry because they see themselves as a victim.
The effectiveness of the endorsement
The approval or confirmation of the child’s feelings has its results. It is not a method used to handle or change the problem or our child’s behavior.
On the contrary, our affirmation and attention to his words is the appropriate way to show him that he has the freedom to express himself. It’s the best we can use to show our love and affection. With confirmation, the child feels safe to experience his feelings and express himself freely.
Sometimes, confirmation/recognition does bring some transient relief because the problem is temporary – so the child is immediately relieved.
However, if you see that his crying continues and grows more potent, be sure to support him. Make sure you don’t cause him grief but offer him love and affirmation to relieve himself. If you feel uncomfortable with the intensity of emotions, remember that it’s not about relieving yourself; it’s about boosting the child’s sense of trust both in you and himself. Through this knowledge, children learn to know and trust themselves.
Their emotions and expression, even if they are intense, seem less dreaded to them. Not only do they clearly understand their feelings and needs, but you, too, recognizing their feelings, will feel that you know them better and that you have created a closer and more intimate relationship between you. This process will teach you to respect their personality and gain a more precise awareness of your direction as a parent.
When recognizing their feelings, it’s good to avoid dramatizing them or adding your emotional reactions. When we dramatize things, children tend to immerse themselves even more in their opinions.
Once they realize our well-intentioned mood, they may cry or break out for a little more intensely and then understand their “drama” and laugh at the whole situation or, at the very least, proceed with a more optimistic and positive mood.
Aldort, N., (2010). Raising our children, raising ourselves.