• Kristina Cherep

Please Stop Telling Your Kids, "Only Babies Cry"

Because is that really true? Were you really a baby the last time you cried? Is this really something we should be teaching our kids? Maybe this is where the stigma starts about mental illnesses. The majority of people, who I know, are not public about their mental illness. Whether that be because they are embarrassed or disappointed or feeling guilty because of it. They don't feel comfortable sharing how they truly feel. Did this come from adults saying, 'Only babies cry'? Maybe. I'm not sure. However, if this is the case let's make a change in the dialogue we use with children.

I understand the annoyance or scare of a toddler or baby crying uncontrollably. Sometimes for a 'good' reason or sometimes because you pushed in their chair for them when they wanted to do it themselves. However, instead of saying to them that only babies cry, find a little bit more patience. Saying those words may make you feel better at the time, but I bet it doesn't make them feel any better. Also, if these words stick with them it could lead them to a life full of confusion or guilt whenever they feel upset.

What I do when a toddler is crying is I look at them and show them how to take a deep breath and tell them to do the same. Sometimes they do it and sometimes they just continue to cry. The most rewarding time I did this is when the toddler took a deep breath and then looked at me and said, "Thank you, Kristina." This melted my heart and made me feel like he knew that I was there for him. He just learned a new skill that even adults don't do when they need to. Just remember to breath.

I do not remember my parents or anyone saying 'only babies cry' to me. So, don't worry family members you guys are in the clear! However, I do remember my first ringtone on my pink chocolate cellphone being the song, Big Girls Don't Cry. Thanks Fergie. Just kidding. However, if you actually listen to the lyrics, it sounds like she truly feels like adults shouldn't cry. One part of the lyrics that really hits home is, when she states that she must go alone on the path that she's walking. I know that most people with a mental illness feel this way at some point. They feel like they have to go through it all alone, which should never be the case.

However, people still do not truly understand mental illnesses. They see it as a weakness. Society is starting to understand it a little bit more, but there's not a true and fair understanding of it from everyone. I want this understanding to start as early as possible for every child because it can! And it should. If we start using different language with kids about crying or being upset then I hope there will be a difference in their lives and society. I hope these kids will grow up with less guilt or embarrassment about feeling sad. I hope these kids will be more open in asking for help when they need it. I hope these kids will grow up being more understanding of people suffering from a mental illness.

Let's start providing children with the understanding that sometimes it's okay to cry and be upset. Maybe this will help break the stigma of mental illnesses.