Remember the movie, “A League of Their Own” when Tom Hanks delivered that memorable line: “There’s no crying in baseball.” Of course, those angry words were uttered as he berated one of his players severely who then began to cry. I might be crying too after a tongue lashing like that.
But, when children are three, four and five years old, it’s not surprising or even unusual for them to cry in pre-K and kindergarten. In fact, many children in the early grades do cry every day for a little while. My niece, a very kind and experienced pre-k and kindergarten teacher told me that often when one child cries, the entire class begins to cry! It’s not that they’re being treated harshly, it’s simply a time of transition, a new experience that children may find stressful. And, when you’re a young child, what else do you do but cry when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Although their tears are as real as their feelings, I’m pretty sure many parents feel even more uncomfortable and stressed during this time. Picture mom and dad dropping off their sad, little person, who of course, will eloquently explain how bad they feel, how they can’t stop crying, how much they “hate” it and they don’t want to go school. Now if that doesn’t make you want to hug them and drag them off the school bus, I don’t know what does.
Take heart, good parents. Then take a very deep breath - several in fact. Know that this too shall pass. New situations require adjustments, learning new skills and honestly, suffering with it a little bit until figuring out what to do next and how to manage.
Think back for a moment, if you will, when you’ve faced a difficult challenge in your life. At first you were confused, possibly angry or overwhelmed. When you had some time to chill out and think about it, you’ve often learned how to cope more effectively and move forward. I call that building resilience. Isn’t that the very same skill we hope to foster in our children – the ability to deal with life’s ups and down and come back a little stronger every time. In quoting from my book, Strong From the Start – Raising Confident and Resilient Kids, I offer this suggestion. “When we (parents) step back, we allow our children to step forward.” It keeps us from stepping on our children’s figurative toes and encourages them to grow more confident, more resilient and stronger with every challenging experience.
Keep loving them, supporting them and letting them know you believe in them. Have a little faith and patience. They won’t let you down.