From crying to happy in 10 seconds – or – what makes a Kid tough

by | Jul 15, 2018 | Education, Personal growth | 0 comments

Over the ages, many a parent must have pondered about how they can prevent their kids from becoming crybabies and instead become strong, stable and tough persons.
While this may apply to boys in particular, I am sure parents want brave daughters as well. Daughters who can take a stand in this world that can bring all kinds of threats and perils from all sides.
It must be an age-old question, with many different approaches to raise kids into toughness.

I’ve come to the conclusion, that the heart of the issue lies in emotions and how we handle them. After all, fear, pain and forsakenness – the primary causes standing against toughness – all have an emotional base.

In Order to be “tough” one has to somehow overcome these emotions.

Now, the obvious approach to “make” kids tough, you have probably seen in the movies. I don’t know about you, but I have this stereotype picture of a dad in mind, living during the “happy days” of the fifties, driving his pickup truck through the rural countryside of the southeast of the USA, his rifle behind the seat, his son beside him. They’ve just come from a good ol’ hunt in the woods. While the lady of the house wasn’t happy about it, that didn’t matter. After all men have to do what they have to do, sometimes. And besides, he hasn’t had a deep talk with his wife for a long time anyways.

During the hunt his son had stumbled over a branch in the woods and beaten up his knee pretty good. Dad had just told him to stop being a crybaby and quit whining about it. After all, real men don’t cry. So now they’re on their way home. Silence prevails in that car. You can only hear the rattling sound of the engine. After all, men don’t have to talk to understand each other.
While this scene might arouse something deep in the heart of a man, which is a good thing, there is one deep problem with it: With this dad’s approach to life, emotions are being killed, instead of addressed and treated. That was the way whole generations in the early to mid 20th century handled emotions. The so-called black pedagogy stemmed from that mindset. I actually believe, that mindset contributed its part to make these generations vulnerable to the political currents of those times.

But interestingly enough, during war times, the “toughest among the toughest” who had really killed their emotions for good, suddenly realized, that their killed emotions hadn’t really been dead, but only slumbering, and these guys suddenly became the most fearful and timid, unable to fight any fight during battle.

I don’t really believe in the “kill your emotions” theory. Instead, we need to be able to handle them. We have to rule over them.

In order to do that, let’s consider the following three attacking points:

  1. Know the source of the emotion

Knowing what incident initiated the emotions you are feeling will help you tremendously with the next point:

  1. Know the emotion

Analyze your feelings. Is it pain? Is it fear? If you are able to describe, what exactly you feel. It will be so much easier to know how to deal with those feelings.

  1. Deal with each incident/emotion step by step

Dealing with each emotion/incident separately will prevent you from being overwhelmed by them all.

It may require tremendous courage to deal with emotions that way – especially if the incident and the resulting pain is severe. This is why a lot of people will never dare to deal with them and, as a result, are not able to unlock their potential all their life. One can not blame them for it.

I am so glad we have a trustworthy God, who through Jesus Christ, can heal us from all those wounds. He is the helper. He can do, what hardly any psychologist will ever be able to do. He can change our lives, so we can be at peace with our past.

So how about that title? What makes kids go from crying to happy in 10 seconds? Well, I chose that title, because when I apply the three attacking points from above, I’m always astonished, how quickly our kids will stop crying, when they’ve hurt themselves. Here is what I do, with great success.

  1. Know the source of the emotion

I compassionately describe to them, what has just happened: “Oh, no, you tried to climb that tree and then you slipped and fell down. Then you hurt your arm when you landed?”

  1. Know the emotion

I try to name each emotion the kid is going through: “That probably was a shock for you, huh? You certainly didn’t expect to fall down, when you wanted to show me how you can climb that tree. Does it hurt?”

  1. Deal with each incident/emotion step by step

Now let’s see, where exactly is the hurting spot? Your arm hurts? Let’s check this out..” I then grab his or her arm and check all joints by moving them manually with my hands: “Hmm, this one is ok, how about the wrist..yeah, ok. And now the fingers..they look fine, too. Hmm, everything looks good. You’ll be fine. Does it still hurt?” I then blow at the wound and by the time I’m doing that, they are usually already off and running again.

This teaches them to know their emotions and how to deal with them. It may initially sound like too much care for such a little incident. But by letting the kids decide when their need for care is met and when it’s enough, it’s certainly never too little. The older they grow, the less care they need, up to the point that our oldest is usually “tough as nails”, as he gets over those kinds of incidents all by himself within seconds. He still has more trouble when he’s wronged by others. That’s because he has a very soft and caring heart. But we’ll teach him as well how to deal with those feelings, as time passes.



So do you make your children sissies, when you care for them like that? Obviously not. I’m sure they much rather acquire a competence in dealing with their feelings. And that’s what makes them tough.

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