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Why Tears Are A Good Thing!

Crying is particular to human beings and is a socially adaptive skill. There are often lots of tears shed during the first few weeks of school because it is usually the first time your child experiences an extended separation from you. It is an important stage for your child when she begins to learn that she can be part of a group outside of her family. During those first days she is working out how to cope with separation, loss, anxiety and change. The skills and techniques she learns will be needed throughout her whole life. As a protective parent you may find it difficult to see your child crying but know that generally, children are resilient and can utilise coping skills remarkably well. Crying is one of a child’s best coping strategies so children should be allowed to cry. The benefits of crying include:

•    The release of tension – it is not healthy to bottle up negative emotions such as loneliness, fear, anger or anxiety. It means you are probably not breathing well, you are tense and rigid. Once you cry, your lungs expand and fill with oxygen. Once your tears have subsided you begin to breathe more efficiently. The louder you cry, the better, as it is more of an emotional release. You will find that once you have stopped crying your muscles are more relaxed.
•    Crying encourages people to come to you and it has been observed that popular children are often the ones who are emotionally open. Other children will comfort the tearful child and strong bonds are created. Crying can help others by showing a tense child who finds it hard to cry that it is safe to release your tears.

Children have their own individual ways of coping. Your child may cry and want to be held and understood or perhaps she prefers to be left alone and maybe hides behind a curtain or piece of furniture where she feels safe. Your child may cry quietly or loudly, for a short time or until she is unable to cry any longer. You will probably see your child go in and out of a crying session all the while trying to process her feelings and observing what others are doing. At some point she may be distracted by something fun or that makes her laugh.

You should not tell your child to stop crying or to pull herself together. Avoid saying things like ‘stop crying’ or ‘your eyes will go all red’ or ‘the other children will think you are silly’. Unless she has been crying for an excessively long time and making herself unwell also refrain from trying to distract your child or saying ‘I do not know why you are making such a huge fuss’. By crying your child is soothing herself and as long as she is not hurting herself or others there is nothing wrong in crying episodes.

Everyone cries at some point and it is totally acceptable for you to cry sometimes. It is a healthy and natural way of releasing anxiety. It is a hard time for you to adjust when your child first goes to school. Being emotionally open, accepting your child’s tears and realising how wonderful crying is as a coping mechanism will enable your child to develop her coping skills in a healthy way.

By Eirian Hallinan

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