When I reached the threshold of my youngest daughters Kindergarten class today, I found her sobbing. Big tears were rolling down her face. My immediate reaction was one of concern as this has never happened before. But upon learning that a classmate was moving away and this was her last day, my protective mama-bear concern gave way immediately to gratitude. Why?
A Valuable Lesson
My daughter’s emotional tears are a clear indicator of her emotional connection to her classmate. This is healthy and a necessary life experience. If I accidentally teach her that her tears are bad or wrong then I have devalued our human nature to connect and bond. Learning that sadness comes with love and friendship and that both are normal parts of our life experience are very good lessons to learn.
It’s critical to child development to teach them about regulating their emotions. Being mad, scared, and sad are all ok feelings to have, as long as we teach our children how to funnel them appropriately. As parents, we use our relationships with other adults our own kids to model appropriate behavior. For example, experiencing a disappointment, allows for our children to see our reactions and gauge what is socially appropriate. This also teaches emotional intelligence. An emotionally intelligent person can understand nuanced emotions in themselves and others and manages them. Giving your children the gift of emotional intelligence allows them to be better communicators in their adult lives.
What Comes Next
So on this day, I am grateful that my daughter could have this real life experience in a dose that she can handle, that I could comfort her and join with her in the sadness that comes from being in good relationships with others. Without embracing sadness and disappointment, my precious daughter would cripple her ability to experience true joy and happiness. Today, I am grateful for her tears.
-Dr Sheri Fluellen