My son was awfully quiet on our way home from school. I asked him about his day, and he summed it up with three words that showed he put a great deal of thought into my question: “It was fine.” His silence continued while his brother and sister fought over personal space. I knew something was up, so when we got home and were alone, I asked him about his day again. Without much warning, he burst into tears!
When our sons cry like this, there’s nothing more moms want than to comfort them and fix everything that has gone wrong. The problem is that the first thing that often leaves our mouths in an attempt to bring comfort is, “Don’t cry.” But we want our sons to feel comfortable crying in front of us! So here are 7 ideas for what to say instead of “stop crying.”
It’s OK to cry.
There’s nothing like being given permission to release tears. Tears are like a cleansing agent for the heart. Telling your son it’s OK to cry will give him the freedom to experience his emotions without fear of judgment or correction.
Telling your son it’s OK to cry will give him the freedom to experience his emotions without fear of judgment or correction.
I see you’re frustrated/sad about…
If you don’t know what to say instead of “stop crying,” try taking note of his emotions. Naming emotions takes the confusion out of the picture. When we help name those emotions for our sons, they’ll feel seen and known, which is already a great comfort in itself!
I am here for you.
Take naming that emotion a step further and let him know your comforting presence will remain with him and support him through difficult times. Let him know you’re available to just listen as he vents some of those frustrations.
I can help you with that.
Sometimes our sons need to know they don’t have to figure everything out on their own. After you listen, let him know you’re willing to help and take action where it’s needed.
Would you like to take a break?
Taking notice of your son’s need for a break will let him know he doesn’t have to get over it all in one sitting. Give him permission to do something else to take his mind off the situation and revisit it later. It may be just what he needs for a fresh perspective.
That was disappointing.
There’s a lot of comfort in just feeling understood. Acknowledging that it’s normal to feel disappointed by whatever disappoints him without asking him a ton of questions like, “Why didn’t you just do such and such?” can help him feel understood.
Do you need a hug?
A research study on hugs shows that a 20-second hug has stress-reducing qualities to it. If you draw a blank and don’t know what to say instead of “stop crying,” offer your son a hug. Maybe all he really needs is to be able to cry on his mom’s shoulder.
What tricks or words do you use to help your son deal with his emotions?