Comforting a crying child isn’t spoiling them, it’s meeting the need that moved them to tears by showing you care.
I’m quite sure that every parent on the planet has been in the presence of a child who is having their tears over something they’ve repeatedly been cautioned not do.
In the midst of these trying moments you may have spontaneously thought something along the lines of, “Well good, maybe this time you’ve learned your lesson” and right after that thought crosses your mind, you feel terrible for even thinking it.
Yes, we’ve told them a million times not to do what they’ve just done. Yes, they shouldn’t have done it, but they still did. Yes, there is a tiny glimmer of satisfaction inside of us because maybe they got what they ‘deserved.’
Take comfort in knowing you’re not an evil parent.
Deep down you’re sensing your child is learning from what hasn’t worked and their tears signal that brain adaption is starting to take place. You’d be right, but it doesn’t end there.
Whenever we withhold our caring in order to reinforce the lesson, we lose an opportunity to hold space for children to feel what it is they’re crying about. That’s where the real learning takes place. They need us to come alongside them and comfort them with our words and actions so they can feel the sadness about what has happened sink in for them.
By not offering our caring we slow down this process because they feel alone in their struggle and over time, this can dampen their caring feelings. When children can no longer feel the sadness in what they’ve done, they take on the self-protective “I don’t care” defence and it’s much harder to learn from mistakes in that place.
If they are to learn they need to care, and we need to show our caring, so they feel cared for, especially when they’re in tears and at their most vulnerable.