It might surprise you to know that I do not mind walking into the center and hearing children cry, in fact I like it.
If the children never cried, I would worry.
I would worry that the children were not being allowed to experience conflict.
I would worry that the children were being placated to keep them happy.
I would worry that the children were getting the message that it was not okay to cry.
I remember once when I worked at a traditional center in the infant/toddler room and my director walked in and asked why one of the children was crying. I replied that she was sad, and the director told me to make her stop because they were giving a tour and it did not look good.
As my past employers will tell you, I did not always follow orders. This child was sad, she wanted something someone else had and despite us offering other toys, she was still sad and deserved to be allowed to express that sadness. Fortunately, she had moved on by the time the tour came by, but I had been prepared to defend her right to cry if needed.
Not only do infants deserve and need to cry and express their emotions, so do toddlers, preschoolers and even adults.
That baby that needed to cry became a toddler and preschooler who sometimes needed to cry. Why would she need to cry you might ask, well, there are many reasons.
None of her friends wanted to play what she wanted to play.
One of her friends played with someone else.
Someone else was playing with the toy she wanted.
And so on, there are many reasons for a child to be sad, frustrated, or angry and they deserve to be able to express those emotion
As adults most of us don’t like it when we are upset, and someone tells us to “Calm Down” or says, “It’s Ok, don’t cry”. I know for me, when someone says those things, I feel like they are not really understanding or listening to me. Instead, I like it when my friend says, “I know that you are feeling sad and if you need to cry, then cry”.
When we go to great effort to stop a child from crying by distraction or bribery, aren’t we really telling them that it’s not okay for them to be crying? That how they are feeling is wrong and they need to stop expressing it? That the only emotion we are comfortable with is happiness? What do they learn from that?
It seems like we expect our children to control their emotions better than adults do, but when we do not allow them to express emotions, how are they supposed to learn to control them.
The crying child I mentioned earlier is now an amazing 8-year-old who is wise and empathetic, yes, she still cries but don’t we all. And that’s okay.