September 16, 2011 at 6:59 am (Attachment Parenting)
I have the opportunity this weekend to attend a professional training with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, author of one of my favorite parenting books, Hold On to Your Kids. Last night’s presentation was called “Raising Resilient Kids: helping children thrive in stressful times.” It was excellent and engaging and struck a personal chord with me.
One thing Dr. Neufeld said that said was that when it comes to emotional expression, kids who are making the most “noise” turn out to be the ones who are the most well-adjusted. He said we often confuse “upset and crying” as “not resilient enough,” and we think we need to toughen kids up with stricter parenting or harsher discipline. When actually, the opposite is true.
Kids who are expressing their feelings are changing their brains to be more adaptive to futile situations. The brain will develop a plasticity to be able to work around emotional adversity. It’s when they don’t let those tears of frustration and anger flow that kids begin to put up walls to protect themselves; they’re defended, as opposed to resilient.
Well, that was good to hear! I guess when JJ grows up, he will be THE most resilient person in the world. Because right now at age 5, he is absolutely a kid who makes the most noise when met with futility. JJ lets everyone know just how upset he is, and doesn’t hold anything back.
Trying to make something work that does’t? Grunts, growls, tears and yelling
Trying to avoid failing? Anger, frustration, and more tears
Not being the best or winning at everything? Oh, this always ends in screaming and sobbing
Not getting his way? Tears for sure
But he only fully expresses himself with me and John, never with his teachers. He might be having a terrible time at Kidsworld, frustrated with other kids or games they’re playing that day, but the teachers never know it. When I pick him up, the emotions start pouring out even as he begins his walk over to me. Because our secure relationship allows him to feel safe enough to do this.
So the tears are not, in fact, evidence of spoiled behavior; they’re the very things that are making him strong.